The Center For Biological Diversity Just Sued The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife In Order To Stop Cruel Killing Methods Of Black Bears

The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife was sued in an effort to stop its illegal program of using inhumane methods to kill hundreds of black bears on private timberlands.

According to the Center For Biological Diversity, which initiated the lawsuit, since 2010, the department has authorized the killing of approximately 900 black bears using bait, dogs, and traps on private commercial timberland.

“It’s so sad that Washington’s bears continue to be killed by barbaric methods banned by the state’s voters,” Collette Adkins, a Center biologist and attorney who represents the environmental group in the lawsuit, said in a statement. “State wildlife officials need to stop this illegal program that allows a small group of hunters to shoot bears over bait, chase them with hounds and catch them in traps.”

After emerging from hibernation in the spring, hungry black bears sometimes peel the bark from trees to eat the calorie-dense sapwood. Even-aged stands of trees in industrial forests lack other natural food sources and are supposedly vulnerable to bears seeking to replenish their depleted fat stores.

The fish and wildlife department authorizes the killing of black bears to protect commercial timber stands. But without any evidence that the program targets tree-damaging bears, the department has created a private hunting season for a favored group of hunters, allowing them to kill bears using methods outlawed by the state’s voters.

In 1996 and 2000, Washington voters approved Initiatives 655 and 713, which banned the killing of black bears using bait, dogs, and traps. The initiatives contained limited exceptions for targeting animals that cause property damage. The lawsuit notes that the department’s program does not fall within these narrow exceptions.

“In passing initiatives to ban these heartless hunting practices, voters said clearly that inhumane bear-hunting methods aren’t acceptable in Washington,” Adkins said. “The fish and wildlife department’s bear-killing program is cruel, ineffective and ecologically harmful. We need to stop it.”

Along with in-house counsel, attorneys at the law firm of Lane Powell are representing the Center For Biological Diversity in this litigation.

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