WILDLIFE — U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service staffers are working to draw conclusions from about 3,000 comments accumulated this year on a plan to restore grizzly bears to the North Cascades.
The Seattle Times reports that after public meetings in six cities an environmental-impact statement is in the works and a final decision is expected in late 2017.
Submitted comments range from outrage at the possible reintroduction of a predator to hopes of grizzly conservation.
Grizzlies would be returned to about 9,800 square miles, mostly federal lands, from the U.S-Canada border south to Wenatchee, extending west to towns such as North Bend and Darrington.
Most grizzly bears in the state were killed by settlers, officials said. Federal wildlife officials estimate there may be fewer than 20 of the bears living in the North Cascades south of Canada.