Grizzly Bear Recovery
Northern Cascades Ecosystem
On April 18, 2007, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced the initiation of a 5-year review of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) (as listed in the lower 48 States excluding the Greater Yellowstone Area population) and 8 other species (72 FR 19549). We conducted reviews to ensure that our classification of each species as threatened or endangered on the List of Endangered and Threatened Wildlife and Plants is accurate. A 5-year review is an assessment of the best scientific and commercial data available at the time of the review.
While study of this very rugged and remote habitat indicates that this ecosystem is capable of supporting a self-sustaining population of grizzlies, only a "remnant" population remains, incapable of enduring without active recovery efforts. The population is estimated to be fewer than 20 animals within the 9,500 sq mi North Cascades recovery zone (limited to the U.S.) and the bears in this ecosystem are warranted for endangered status. In 1991, the Fish and Wildlife Service first issued a warranted but precluded finding to uplist the North Cascades recovery zone population to endangered status. As noted in the recently published Annual Notice of Findings on Resubmitted Petitions, this uplisting action continues to be precluded by higher priority listing actions (see the species assessment form for additional information on why reclassification is warranted but precluded). The Service assigned a listing priority number of 3 for this population because of very low population numbers as evidenced by continuing lack of credible sightings and little success identifying animals through hair snagging and genetic analysis.
Threats to the species in this recovery zone include incomplete habitat protection measures (motorized access management), small population size, and population fragmentation resulting in genetic isolation. Information indicating isolation of the population in British Columbia and the United States limits the chance of natural recovery given the small population size. Population augmentation may be the only way to recover this population.
The population in adjacent British Columbia is estimated to be less than 25-30 grizzly bears. A draft British Columbia recovery plan for that area recommends habitat protection measures and population augmentation on the Canadian side of the border.
Current efforts toward recovery are focusing on habitat protection through a strategy of no net loss of core habitat, information and education efforts regarding grizzly bears and their habitat, and enhanced sanitation for proper garbage and food storage in bear habitat. Information and education programs must continue to inform people about grizzly bear biology, and techniques to avoid conflicts when living or recreating in bear habitat. An EIS process is necessary to involve the public in examining a range of alternatives to recover this population, including population augmentation.