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National Park Service reverses course on plan to remove iconic animals: 'This is incredible news'

"This really is the park service following their mission by protecting and trying to restore lost resources."

"This really is the park service following their mission by protecting and trying to restore lost resources."

Photo Credit: iStock

In a major conservation win for grizzly bears and wild horses, the National Park Service greenlighted a plan to preserve the species in two separate national parks in Washington and North Dakota. 

As the Guardian reported, the NPS reversed a decision to remove about 200 wild horses from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota, which would've taken away a huge part of the park's history. 

The outlet explained that the horses "descended from those belonging to Native American tribes who fought the 1876 Great Sioux War." 

In addition, their presence shaped many of Theodore Roosevelt's experiences as a cattle rancher and hunter in the state both before and during his presidency. 

"Given the broad public support for maintaining the wild horses at Theodore Roosevelt National Park, as well as the measure we passed through Congress, this is the right call by NPS," North Dakota Sen. John Hoeven said in a statement.

Hundreds of miles west in the North Cascades ecosystem in Washington, grizzly bears will soon roam the rugged landscape after not being seen in the region since 1996, according to the NPS. The agency partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service in a move to restore the threatened bears to the park by relocating grizzlies from other wilderness areas in the Rocky Mountains and interior British Columbia.

The plan will see three to seven grizzly bears introduced to the North Cascades each year for five to 10 years to bring the population to 25 bears. In the long term, the NPS hopes to repopulate the area with at least 200 bears within 60 to 100 years. 

According to the Spokesman-Review, the park service will select mostly female bears between two and five years old that have no history of human conflict in order to drive the population while also taking precautions to keep park visitors safe. 

"This is incredible news," Kathleen Callaghy, the north-west representative for Defenders of Wildlife's species conservation and coexistence department, told the Guardian.

Restoration efforts like these make park visits a more memorable experience for tourists while also providing opportunities to educate the public about the importance of preserving nature. 

In addition, efforts to conserve wild places, such as the movement to give nature legal rights and an agreement by 200 countries to protect the oceans, help ensure healthy ecosystems for all species.

Speaking on the bear and wild horse preservation projects, Graham Taylor, northwest program manager for the National Parks Conservation Association, said to the Guardian, "For one generation to have wildlife, and the next generation not, is not how they're supposed to be managed, so this really is the park service following their mission by protecting and trying to restore lost resources.

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