The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD), who appear to have bottomless pockets, have started the process to sue the Department of Interior (DOI) to force it to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades Ecosystem in Washington. In its lawsuit, CBD contends that DOI is violating the ESA by failing to implement the grizzly bear recovery plan calling for grizzly bear reintroduction in the North Cascades. In preparation for the lawsuit, CBD has filed a related Freedom of Information Act lawsuit to obtain documents from the DOI to try to support their argument.
Grizzly bears were originally listed as “threatened” under the ESA in the contiguous 48 states in 1975. Since then, DOI’s recovery efforts have focused on six ecosystems. Two of the ecosystems have large growing populations (the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem centered in Yellowstone National Park and the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem centered in Glacier National Park). Two more ecosystems have smaller stable populations (the Cabinet-Yaak ecosystem in northwest Montana and northern Idaho, and the Selkirk ecosystem in northeastern Washington, northern Idaho, and southern British Columbia). The remaining two recovery areas (Bitterroot and North Cascades) are thought to have potentially suitable habitat, but no known populations.
CBD’s threatened lawsuit focuses on the North Cascades Ecosystem. In 2015, DOI began planning the environmental review process for a grizzly restoration plan in the area. Throughout 2017, the agency held public meetings and consultations with tribe and stakeholders and facilitated two public comment periods on a Draft Environmental Impact Statement.
On July 7, 2020, DOI announced it is ending its plans to reintroduce the bears into the North Cascades. In a press release, DOI explained that the grizzly bears are not in danger of extinction and many stakeholders, including homeowners, farmers, ranchers and small business owners, have voiced concerns and do not want grizzly bears reintroduced to the North Cascades.
CBD argues that the North Cascades Ecosystem is an integral recovery zone for the grizzly species as a whole, and that, without reintroduction in the area, the species will never recover in the contiguous 48 states (grizzlies are abundant in Alaska and Canada). However, the ESA does not mandate that a species be recovered everywhere – the focus is on preventing extinction. The presence of four populations in the contiguous 48 states, including the larger GYE and NCDE populations, means extinction is just not going to happen.
“Just like clockwork, the extreme animal-rights groups once again are ignoring science and law when it doesn’t suit them,” said Bruce Tague, Sportsmen’s Alliance vice president of government affairs. “These groups at some point need to pick a side … either base their actions on biologist recommendations and sound science or just come clean and tell the world their real agenda is ending all forms of hunting, fishing and trapping.”
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.