Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke Coming To Washington To Talk Grizzly Bear Recovery

This undated file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana.CREDIT: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
This undated file photo provided by the National Park Service shows a grizzly bear walking along a ridge in Montana.CREDIT: NATIONAL PARK SERVICE

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke is heading to the North Cascades Friday to speak on reintroducing grizzly bears in that part of Washington. His agency had previously suspended controversial efforts to bolster the bears in the area.

Scientists think there are fewer than 10 grizzly bears left in Washington’s North Cascades.

The federal government looked at options to help the population. They’ve ranged from a do-nothing approach to reintroducing grizzlies to the area.

The plans proved controversial. After public meetings across Washington, the government was in the midst of reviewing nearly 127,000 public comments.

Then in December the Interior Department abruptly halted the program. The media advisory about Zinke’s visit to Washington did not elaborate on what he would announce, other than to say he will “provide remarks on the grizzly bear restoration efforts.”

Grizzly bear numbers have been drastically reduced in Washington from over-hunting and habitat loss. Biologists say the bears could become extinct in the North Cascades if nothing is done.

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Trina Jo Bradley at the gate to one of her ranch's pastures. Like most ranchers here, she's been largely accommodating of the grizzlies as their population has rebounded and they've spread off of the neighboring mountains into the more populated plains. CREDIT: CLAIRE HARBAGE/NPR

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