Washington Doubles Down on Opposition to Spring Black Bear Hunt

by Quentin Blount
Photo by Friso Gentsch/picture alliance via Getty Images

Don’t get your hopes up for a spring black bear hunt in the state of Washington. The Fish and Wildlife Commission just voted against it.

We have got some pretty big news for all of you Washington residents, bear hunters, and outdoor enthusiasts out there. The state recently voted down a 2022 spring bear-hunting season proposal. According to a recent press release put out by the Center for Biological Diversity, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 5-4 on Saturday against the proposal.

For those of you who don’t know, the Washinton Fish and Wildlife Commission also oversees the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife. It’s the second time they have voted on a black bear hunting season for 2022. It followed up a previous attempt from hunting groups to reverse the state’s decision to suspend the hunt.

Sophia Ressler is a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. She says that Saturday’s vote was a big win for both science and for black bears.

“This vote is a big win for both science and black bears,” she said. “It will protect bear cubs from being orphaned by a reckless spring hunt. The commission once again told state wildlife officials that they won’t authorize a hunt without a proper analysis of the threats to Washington’s bears. We hope the wildlife agency actually listens this time.”

Washington Spring Black Bear Hunt Was Canceled Late Last Year

Have you have been following along with the entire controversy? If so, you may recall that a vote back in November to create a 2022 spring bear hunting season in Washington failed. That particular vote came in the face of public criticism from both wildlife experts and concerned members of the community. They voiced their concerns that a 2022 spring hunt could cause a threat to the bear population.

As a matter of fact, former Washington Fish and Wildlife Commissioner Fred Koontz resigned thanks in part to the controversial vote. And just days before Governor Jay Inslee was set to appoint three new members, a number of pro-hunt commissioners were able to get a petition through to reinstate the 2022 spring bear hunt.

“The fact that a second vote on a bear season even occurred is shocking,” said Ressler. “It reeks of corruption that department staff and commissioners did the bidding of bear hunters by pushing this proposal to the commission only days before Gov. Inslee appointed new members.”

According to the Center for Biological Diversity, black bears come out from their dens in the springtime but they struggle to put on weight after hibernation. That stress goes twice for mother bears, who are also tasked with feeding their cubs. In the past, Washington was one of eight states in the U.S. that allowed a spring bear hunt.