Episode 15 - Jack Oelfke
Imagine the return of grizzly bear in Washington's vast North Cascades wilderness, where it fulfills its ancient role in the ecosystem! That is what Jack Oeflke of the North Cascades Park Complex discusses in this inspiring show. Ample habitat is available to support a population of several hundred grizzly bears, in an ecosystem that is on a par with Yellowstone and Glacier, but now lacks a reproducing population of bears. Public support is strong for the proposal to reintroduce bears, which could occur in the next few years. A final decision is expected by the end of 2017. Join the conversation!
"Grizzlies were here in the North Cascades pre-settlement clearly. More recently then, they have been struggling to keep a population here because of all of the human-induced mortality that has occurred."
"The North Cascades is about 10,000 square miles south of the border with Canada. And then of course the ecosystem itself naturally extends into Canada roughly another 3,800 square miles, so quite a large ecosystem."
"We started in early 2015, formally anyway, to talk about grizzly bear recovery here. Briefly, to summarize, we had broad support for it. From those who commented both in the public setting, as well as through Internet. The concerns, in general, focused on personal safety when you’re out hiking or horseback riding or doing whatever in the mountains in the ecosystem."
"There is some inherent mistrust of government that is out there, and again, not unexpected. And so that’s a little bit tougher nut to crack responding to some of that.
Our approach is to be transparent and just put out there: here’s what we know, and here’s what we expect, so again drawing heavily from those other ecosystems."
"…to have another sustaining population separated from those in the Northern Rockies would seem to be a benefit to the species as well, for the overall health and viability of the grizzly bear in the lower 48. It makes sense to have multiple viable populations."