Wild Nature

published : 2023-11-15

Biden Admin's Plan to Release Predators Near Rural Communities Sparks Widespread Opposition

Release of Grizzly Bears Raises Concerns Among Livestock and Agriculture Industry Groups

A close-up photograph of a grizzly bear in its natural habitat, taken with a Nikon D850.

A wide range of livestock and agriculture industry groups, along with state and local governments, are strongly opposing a plan by the Biden administration to release grizzly bears in a Washington forest area near rural communities.

In comments filed with the federal government, groups including the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA), Public Lands Council (PLC), and American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF) argued that introducing grizzly bears near communities would have detrimental effects on their members in the region.

They expressed concerns regarding public safety and the potential impact on future conservation efforts.

Mark Eisele, a Wyoming rancher and incoming president of the NCBA, stated, 'Introducing an apex predator like the grizzly bear to a new area of Washington state is a mistake and poses a huge threat to our rural communities and hardworking farmers and ranchers.'

He further criticized the plan, saying, 'This proposal is being pushed by bureaucrats thousands of miles away from the West who do not fully understand the harm this species will cause to producers.'

'The Biden administration should listen to rural residents and rethink this plan,' added Eisele.

The proposed plan by the Biden administration, announced on September 29, suggests releasing up to seven grizzly bears annually into the North Cascades ecosystem in northern Washington over the next five to 10 years.

An aerial shot of a rural community surrounded by lush green fields, taken with a DJI Phantom 4 Pro.

Livestock and agriculture industry groups are concerned about the potential dangers posed by grizzly bears, which are known to be 20 times more dangerous than black bears and are notorious for their aggressive and fatal mauling.

Mark Roeber, the president of the PLC and a rancher from Colorado, highlighted the broad diet of grizzly bears, warning that they could harm various industries, including corn producers, orchards, cattle ranchers, and sheep ranchers.

Roeber emphasized that he has already experienced livestock depredation due to gray wolf populations near his ranch and expressed concerns about the even greater harm that grizzly bears could cause to livestock producers in Washington state.

The proposal by the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service aims to establish a grizzly bear population of approximately 200 bears in the North Cascades ecosystem.

Grizzly bears are currently listed as threatened but not endangered by the federal government.

Opposition to the plan has come from various stakeholders, including the NCBA, PLC, AFBF, American Sheep Industry Association, and numerous local affiliates.

They argue that the reintroduction of grizzly bears would not only pose a risk to human safety but also cause significant economic harm to both private and public lands producers.

A group of cattle ranchers and farmers protesting against the release of grizzly bears, holding up signs with their concerns, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.

In addition, they believe that the plan is unnecessary for the continued growth of the grizzly bear population nationwide.

The Chelan County Board of Commissioners, the local governing body near the North Cascades ecosystem, also expressed opposition to the plan, urging the federal agencies to reconsider the impact on local communities.

The states of Montana and Idaho also voiced their concerns, stating that the proposal could be harmful and that grizzly bears would occupy various habitats regardless of landownership.

The plan to reintroduce grizzly bears to the North Cascades dates back to the Obama administration.

The Trump administration decided against the restoration of grizzly bears in the ecosystem, but the Biden administration has again reviewed the possibility following litigation from environmental groups.

The final decision on the proposal remains pending.