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Thursday, February 9, 2017

Action Alert: You can help bring grizzlies back to Washington state

Posted by: Kerston Swartz, Advocacy Manager

You can help bring this iconic species back to Washington’s North Cascades.

Woodland Park Zoo supports grizzly bear restoration in Washington state. You should too. And you don’t even need to put down whatever device you are on right now to make your stance known.

Submit a public comment now and tell the government why you want grizzly bears recovered into the North Cascades. 

Grizzly bear brothers Keema and Denali. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

Let us make the case. It starts right here with two of Washington’s most well-known grizzlies. It’s no surprise Woodland Park Zoo’s grizzly bear brothers, Keema and Denali, are among the most popular animals at the zoo. With their fuzzy ears, lumbering stroll and impressive swimming (OK, more like floating and bobbing) skills, they’re hard not to love. 

Despite their lovability, history has not been kind to grizzly bears in Washington state. During the late 1800s and early 1900s, new settlers to Washington killed thousands of grizzly bears, significantly reducing or eliminating populations. Today, fewer than 10 grizzlies exist in Washington’s North Cascades Ecosystem…and really, it’s probably more like one or two. In fact, a grizzly hasn’t been spotted in the North Cascades for 21 years.

We can reverse the grizzly bear’s history in Washington. The National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and several other federal and state agencies are evaluating ways to restore the grizzly population in the North Cascades. They’ve released a draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) analyzing several options that include translocating bears from other regions into Washington.

Woodland Park Zoo supports North Cascades grizzly bear recovery and this process. Here are three reasons you can add to your public comment in support of grizzly recovery:

1. Grizzly bears are vital to ecosystem health
The North Cascades are a beautiful and pristine wildland, but are missing one key element: grizzly bears. Misunderstood as voracious predators, grizzly bears are actually semi-reclusive, very smart omnivores. In fact, 80% of a grizzly’s diet is berries, green plants, roots and insects. This is why grizzlies have such long claws: so they can dig up roots, bulbs, small mammals and bugs. That big hump on their back? That’s a well-developed digging muscle. All this excavating aerates the soil and increases plant diversity to create a lush and healthy environment for many other critters. 

2. We already know the (bear) drill
Prepared outdoorspeople already know how to behave in bear country, as we have thousands of black bears living among us in the state. True, grizzlies and black bears have distinct personalities, but bear safety standard operating procedure is the same. Take bear spray when you go into the woods, properly pack and cook your food while camping, and be sure to make lots of noise on a hike.

3. Recovering the grizzly bear is the right thing to do
There are many more reasons why recovering grizzlies to the North Cascades makes sense, but in the end, it’s simply the right thing for us to do. Grizzly bears lived in our state for thousands of years. They are part of our region’s rich heritage. American Indians throughout the Pacific Northwest see grizzly bears as teachers and guides, iconic symbols of strength and survival. Imagine our regional pride when we could boast about the return of the grizzly bear to Washington after near eradication 100 years ago.

Grizzly bears are smart and curious animals with a keen sense of smell. Be sure to practice bear safe techniques when you’re recreating. Photo: Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/Woodland Park Zoo.

If you’re even more curious about recovery, go to a public meeting to learn more. At these meetings, informational displays will be available as well as an opportunity to submit written comments.

Whether you submit your comment online or at a meeting, we thank you for using your voice as an instrument of conservation. 


  1. We wholeheartedly support all efforts to allow the Grizzly to roam free in our mountains.

  2. Thnk you for bringing this to my attention. I submitted my comments to the NPS.