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6/25/2014 6:02:00 AM
Group wants grizzlies back in the Grand Canyon
A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. A conservation group has petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider reintroducing grizzlies in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. (USFWS/Courtesy)
A grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. A conservation group has petitioned the Fish and Wildlife Service to consider reintroducing grizzlies in Arizona and other parts of the Southwest. (USFWS/Courtesy)
By Paulina Pineda
Cronkite News

WASHINGTON - The Center for Biological Diversity recently petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to work to return grizzly bears to the Grand Canyon, the Gila/Mogollon complex and other areas of the Southwest.

The petition cited 110,000 square miles of potential bear habitat - in Arizona, New Mexico, the Sierra Nevada in California and Utah's Uinta Mountains - that could allow the introduction of up to 4,000 grizzly bears in the West.

"This animal is very much revered," said Noah Greenwald, the center's endangered species director. "They are an iconic symbol of wilderness and our past."

At least one critic called the plan a waste of taxpayer dollars for a proposal that is "playing God."

But Greenwald said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service needs to revise its 1993 grizzly bear recovery plan, which he said is outdated.

Gavin Shire, a Fish and Wildlife Service spokesman, would only say that the agency has received the center's petition and is reviewing its content.

Greenwald said he expects to hear back from the agency within six months, but said that the overall process of reintroducing bears would be an ongoing one that could take years.

Greenwald said that fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears exist today in the lower 48 states, and they are confined to Montana, Idaho, Wyoming and Washington - about 4 percent of their historic range.

Reintroducing grizzlies to the greater Southwest would help increase the population of the threatened species.

But it would also help regulate prey population and maintain the health of deer and elk herds, he said.

"By doing that they (grizzlies) benefit a lot of other species," Greenwald said.

He said the areas cited in the petition are mostly uninhabited, with few roads.

"I think the Gila/Mogollon area is one of the largest areas where there aren't currently [grizzly] bears, but could be," he said.

But Patrick Bray, executive vice president of the Arizona Cattle Growers' Association, does not see many positives to the center's petition.

Bray said reintroducing bears to Arizona would hurt the livestock industry, especially for ranchers near the Arizona and New Mexico border.

He also said the recovery plan would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, and called the center's action a "game" to "keep man off public lands."

"Humans should be really careful in playing God with these things," Bray said. "What is going to happen to the elk herd or other wildlife? Why is it that we need to play this game?"

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Reader Comments

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Kingman Resident-1

Up in Beautiful Anchorage, "they" thought it would be a great idea to build nature trails in and around the metro area. This way the grizzlies and, especially the black bears would have a buffet choice for lunch and dinner. They seem to particularly like "tree hugger" types LOL!

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Confucius Says

I pay taxes and well, non of the rest of the money gets spent any way I would want it so HECK yeah I want to see bears in my back yard.
This is how I see it. To have an eco system that is healthy you are going to need large hoarding animals, dear, antelope, cows... but to keep them moving/hoarded together the predators have to be an existing threat. By keeping the hoard moving the (hopefully grass land) is able to create a micro climate making conditions for soil to be super potent for the next spring rainy season, also the micro climate hold in moisture and Co2 gases from manure. Very interesting stuff, I saw a guy talking about it on TED Talks with a bunch of research done in the African grass plains, Desertification is destroying the territory of many species world wide.
I think reintroducing wolves and bear is just about the brightest idea I have heard on this website in a long time.
First off- I don't care about tourist. Go home. Its nature if you get attacked by a bear it was a very slim chance and you can file your complaint with mother nature.

SAVE ARIZONA from Desertification > continue to accept the fact that we are taking away more and more territory from nature that was never ours to take.

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Tongue In Cheek

I've a much better idea. Let's ban tourists from the Grand Canyon so it can get back to a normal environment sans trash, pollution and the destruction people cause.

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Joe Miller


Also consider the entertainment value of adding fresh water sharks to the Colorado river and watching them interact with the tourists. Piranhas maybe?

Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2014
Article comment by: Right On mr. parker

When I read this earlier today, it sparked my curiosity as to what type of group would want to do this. I navigated online to their parker is right on the money. Every individual listed is an attorney or some other PFA position titled individual.

Check the website these peeps couldn't hold a 3rd shift job at Burger World!! But they're certainly out to take taxpayer $$$.

Just another "gimme" group of losers who have never broken a sweat doing any sort of real work.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Gisela Potokar

Besides grizzlies, and also wolves, what do they want next? Perhaps try out that "frozen DNA from a Mammoth? How about some dinosaurs?
God help us!

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Just A. Citizen

I'm thinking this is a poor idea. It's a shame we (humans) hunted them out in the first place but now is much too late to reintroduce that 'A' list predator to that area. It's been proven wolves can co exist but grizzlies in the Grand Canyon would be like great white sharks in Lake Mead.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Joe Blow

While we're at it, how about putting about 1,000 Pit Bulls in the canyon as well?

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: throwing Up

I agree with Frank, but I also agree that they should be reintroduced here. We should be able to hunt them in about ten years, Which would give me another excuse to get out hunting.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: mr. parker

The center for biological diversity is an activist group that claims to use science in their decision making process.

But what they really are is a lawsuit happy organization much like the Westboro Baptist Church.

Looking at their annual report, they received over $1.4 million in "legal returns." Taxpayers paid for this.

" The Center also shakes down taxpayers directly from Interior Department funds under the Equal Access to Justice Act, and for missed deadlines when the agency can’t keep up with the broadside of Freedom-of-Information-Act requests."

"Amos Eno runs the hugely successful Yarmouth, Maine-based Resources First Foundation, an outfit that, among other things, assists ranchers who want to restore native ecosystems.... Eno figures the feds could “recover and delist three dozen species” with the resources they spend responding to the Center for Biological Diversity’s litigation."

“The amount of money CBD makes suing is just obscene,” Amos Eno said. “They’re one of the reasons the Endangered Species Act has become so dysfunctional. They deserve the designation of eco-criminals.”

Look at their corporate contributors,Big Banks and Exxon-Mobil stuck out at me.

Nothing but a scam with sham science.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Kingman Dweller

Why would anyone want to do that? The ecosystem there has been working just fine without them. They just can't seem to keep their nose out of anything. Let's bring something back that will be in direct conflict with all the visitors. There is no sound logical reason for this.

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: desert dweller

Unbelievable NUT CASES! What are you going to feed them.....TOURISTS?

Posted: Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Article comment by: Frank in Kingman

Brown Bears used to found as far as Ohio, so lets reintroduce them to Cleveland, St Louis and Chicago.

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