January 18, 2022

Washington Commission Could Reconsider Spring Black Bear Hunt at Jan. 21 Meeting

Contact: Keely Hopkins, Assistant Manager, Pacific States


Why It Matters: Since 1999, Washington state has offered a spring black bear hunting season. This season is a fine-tuned conservation and wildlife management tool utilized by WDFW in the implementation of their overall game management plan, which is executed in pursuit of their mission to protect, preserve, and perpetuate wildlife and the ecosystems upon which they depend. WDFW carefully sets permit numbers based on several factors that considers population estimates, prey level concerns, and human/bear conflicts. In addition to being an important management tool, the spring hunt helps to generate critical conservation funding through hunting license and tag sales as part of the American System for Conservation Funding. This funding is then used by WDFW for habitat restoration, public land access projects, and other statewide conservation efforts of which all Washington residents enjoy.

Despite scientific data that supports a spring black bear hunting season, and a recommendation from Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) to continue the hunt, the WDFW Commission suspended the 2022 Spring black bear hunt in 4-4 tie vote at their November 19, 2021 meeting. The Spring black bear hunt, which is a permit-only hunt, has occurred since 1999 and has helped maintain a stable population of healthy black bears throughout the state. Additionally, it has provided agency staff and biologists with an important management tool while also generating critical conservation funding through the sales of hunting licenses and tags.

On January 21, the Washington Commissioners will host a special meeting to consider petitions to amend WAC 220-415-080 and allow for a spring black bear hunt. CSF has joined several in-state partners, including the Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, the Hunter’s Heritage Council, and Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation, in submitting a formal petition to the Commission that will be considered at the meeting. Additionally, a commissioner has the ability to call for a revote of the November 19 decision at this meeting, which, if passed, could reinstate the 2022 Spring black bear season.

Washington residents are encouraged to contact the Commissioners and urge their support for the Inland NW Wildlife Council Petition and to respectfully ask for a revote on the 2022 Spring black bear hunting Season. Commissioners can be reached at 360-902-2267 or by submitting a comment online. While at this point it does not appear that public testimony will be allowed at the meeting, the public can watch the Commission meeting on January 21st from 1:00 to 2:30pm by clicking here. CSF will continue to keep you updated on the status of this petition and other issues that impact Washington’s rich and longstanding hunting and conservation heritage.

Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?

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