People have until April 28 to comment on proposals to restore endangered grizzly bears in the North Cascades ecosystem.
The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service extended the public comment period for another 45 days at the request of local elected officials and the public, officials said Monday.
People can comment on the four options in a draft plan that range from taking no action to capturing the bears from elsewhere and transplanting them to increase their population in the North Cascades in Washington state. The goal is to reach a restoration total of 200 bears over the course of 25 to 100 years, depending on the action taken.
Their current numbers are estimated to be fewer than 20 in the North Cascades, according to Fish and Wildlife Service.
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The restoration effort focuses on 9,800 square miles of mostly public land, including Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, North Cascades National Park, Ross Lake National Recreation Area, Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, and Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest.
Find the proposals in the draft EIS, and submit written comments, through April 28 by going online to parkplanning.nps.gov/grizzlydeis.
Comments can also be mailed to the Superintendent’s Office, North Cascades National Park Service Complex, 810 state Route 20, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284.
Whether grizzly bears should be brought back to the North Cascades has been intensely debated by opponents, who fear increased danger to people and livestock, as well as supporters.
Bellingham resident Chris Morgan, filmmaker and ecologist who has focused on bears for some 25 years, has added his voice and that of actor Jeff Bridges to those supporting the idea.
People who watch nature documentaries might recognize Morgan’s face or voice. A bear biologist, he has hosted a number of films about bears in Alaska, including for PBS Nature and the BBC.