(RepublicanView.org) – More than 200 local residents showed up to a public comment session held by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the National Parks Service (NPS) in Northern Washington to voice their concerns about a plan by the Biden administration to release grizzly bears into a federally managed forest near their communities. Of the residents who gave comments, nearly 50 were opposed to the measure, while only six spoke in support of the proposal, according to a Fox News report.
The Biden administration’s plan would be to establish a population of about 200 grizzly bears in the area in the next couple decades by releasing at least seven bears per year. The plan, which was publicly released in September, offers three options. Two of the options would involve actively restoring grizzly bear populations to historical levels. The third option would be to take no action and continue current practices for managing the apex predators.
While supporters of the plan have cited the importance of the move for the sake of species preservation and the ecosystem, many residents have expressed concern for crops and personal safety. Republican Representative Dan Newhouse spoke on behalf of his constituents and as a farmer, according to Fox News. He said he’s concerned that the relocated bears will destroy his crops and asked what the government’s plan is for dealing with livestock depredation and crop loss. Calling the plan “dangerous,” he expressed fears that relocating grizzlies to the area will endanger residents, including those who work on his farm. He further brought up worries that the bears will move out of the established zone that the USFWS places them in.
Biden is not the first president to propose reintroducing grizzly bears to the North Cascades. It was suggested during the Obama administration, and former President Trump considered the plan before deciding against it.
According to wildlife officials, grizzly bears were common predators in the North Cascades for hundreds of years before they were hunted out of the area. The last known sighting of a grizzly bear in the region was nearly 30 years ago, in 1996.
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