Washington Hunters Worried Hunting is ‘Under Attack’ After Recent Lawsuits

by Will Shepard

A Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) spokesperson thinks that hunting is under attack in Washington. As regulations are getting stricter, Washington hunters are getting worried.

In particular, a new lawsuit and two new fish and wildlife commissioners are scaring Washington hunters. This new lawsuit and new commissioners makes it seem like the regulations are strangling hunting.

Kim Thorburn, a WDFW commissioner, says that it’s discouraging what is happening in Washington to hunters.

“I’m pretty upset about what’s going on. We’re looking at hunters as an enemy.”

Most importantly, Kim Thorburn points out a recent lawsuit against a hunting regulation. She says that one by one, Washington hunters’ freedom to hunt is diminishing from lawsuits. For example, in 2019, the WDFW said that Washington hunters are no longer allowed to hunt for antler-less deer.

Additionally, the two new commissioners appointed to the WDFW concern themselves mostly with wildlife conservation and advocacy. While that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can certainly mean they are not pro-hunting.

On the other hand, one Washington wildlife advocate is pleased to see the direction things are going.

“I’m very excited with the direction Gov. Inslee has taken with the most recent appointments to the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission.”

Washington Hunters Are Fearful of New WDFW Commissioners

However, Lorna Smith, says that she is not trying to introduce new lawsuits to regulate hunting. Her term runs through 2026, and as one of the new commissioners, she seems poised to disrupt the hunting in Washington.

“I would like to calm those fears of the hunting community. I’m not coming in to abolish this sport.”

Smith grew up hunting in Washington, she believes that new legislation does need to be introduced. In particular, she points out how mountain lion hunting has to change. But, she promises that everything she will do is “grounded in science.”

In April of 2020, the WDFW decided to allow more cougar hunting across the state. But, Smith is against those new legislations and might bring lawsuits against those regulations.

“I would personally like to see more emphasis on science being brought before the commission as they are making their decision, rather than it having it all digested down into a few sentences. I’ll do my research. I’m not going to just rely on what’s coming to the table by the department.”

So, for Washington hunters, this might mean more lawsuits targeting hunters’ freedom to harvest game. However, there are still a lot of hunting advocates out there.

One person, Mark Pidgeon, in particular, says that Washington hunters and hunters, in general, get a bad rap. He and Washington’s the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council’s executive director feel the same way.

“I feel like hunters are portrayed in the media in a way that doesn’t actually represent who we are.”

So, while hunting in Washington may decline, there are still plenty of people out there who will continue to hunt. Regardless of lawsuits brought against Washington hunters and regulations, hunting will persevere.

[H/T Seattle Times]