The 2022 Spring Bear Hunt In Washington Has Been Cancelled This Year After The Fish & Wildlife Commission Voted Against It For The Second Time

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 5-4 over the weekend against a proposed 2022 spring bear-hunting season. The vote by the commission, which oversees the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife, is the second related to this year’s season. It follows an attempt by hunting groups to reverse the original November 2021 suspension of the hunt.

“This vote is a big win for both science and black bears, and it will protect bear cubs from being orphaned by a reckless spring hunt,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity, in a statement. “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.”

A tie vote in November failed to approve the rule needed to create a 2022 spring bear hunting season and thus cancelled the season entirely. The November vote occurred following a public outcry from experts and community members. They voiced serious concerns over the hunt’s possible threats to the bear population, including the potential to orphan bear cubs when nursing mothers are killed in the spring.

After the resignation of Commissioner Fred Koontz, partially because of the controversial vote, and just days before Governor Jay Inslee appointed three new commissioners, several pro-hunting commissioners pushed through a petition for rulemaking 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 Governor Inslee appointed new members.”

Vulnerable black bears emerge from their dens in the spring, struggling to gain weight after winter hibernation. This is particularly challenging for mother bears who must also feed their hungry  cubs. In previous years, Washington allowed hunters with a “special permit” to kill black bears during this time.

Prior to the recent vote, Washington was one of only eight states in the country that allowed a spring bear hunt. Black bears are found in 41 states throughout the U.S.

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