Podcast | How grizzlies might make a comeback in Washington

The North Cascades’ bear population thrived in the 19th century, but now almost none are left. Advocates are working to bring them back.

Grizzly bear at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo

A grizzly bear in an enclosure at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. Grizzlies can weigh as much as 700 pounds. (Courtesy of Library of Congress)

The iconic grizzly bear once roamed the North Cascades. Grizzly bones have also been found as far west as Whidbey Island. Today, however, there are almost no grizzlies left in Washington state.


Some government agencies have started the process of potentially reintroducing the bears to the region, given their history as a key part of the ecosystem. This idea, however, isn’t without controversy.

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Crosscut’s resident historian Knute Berger dug into this history and controversy in a recent episode of the Mossback’s Northwest video series, but there’s more left to explore.

In this episode of Mossback, Berger joins co-host Stephen Hegg to ask what evidence we have of grizzlies in Washington’s historical record, why the bears have mostly disappeared and why some want to bring them back. Plus, Berger and Hegg offer some sound advice on bear etiquette. 

About the Hosts

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.

Stephen Hegg

Stephen Hegg

Stephen is formerly a senior video producer at Crosscut and KCTS 9. He specialized in arts and culture.