WA Spring Bear Next Steps

12/21/21 UPDATE: Take Action NOW

Make your voice heard and tell the WDFW Commission to reconsider the 2022 spring bear season. Follow the link below to send a letter to the WDFW Commissioners. 

https://www.backcountryhunters.org/take_action#/249

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As many of you are aware, the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission recently tied in a vote 4-4, to approve the regulations for the spring bear hunt for 2022. This tie vote forced the spring hunt to be cancelled for the 2022 season and be reevaluated again for the 2023 season. This outcome is very concerning to BHA since the recommendation of WDFW and their biologist was to allow the season as supported by harvest numbers that fell within a sustainable rate of 9-11% of the population based off the states estimate of 18,000 - 21,000 black bear statewide.

Here are some of the actions that the Washington Chapter of BHA has taken in response to both the Spring Black Bear vote and the current structure of the WDFW Commission.

  • The Chapter has filed a joint petition with The Inland Northwest Wildlife Council to amend the Washington Advisory Code regarding the Spring Black Bear hunt and allow the 2022 season to take place. Co-signed on this petition are Meateater, Blood Origins, Wenatchee Sportsmen Association, Hunters Heritage Council, Inland Empire Safari Club International, and Washingtonians for Wildlife Conservation.

The petition has been received by WDFW and will be formally considered at the Commission meeting on January 21st, 2022.

The petition can be found here:

Neumiller_PETITION_FOR_ADOPTION.pdf

  • The Chapter authored a letter to Governor Inslee urging him to appoint the open 9th commissioner seat to avoid future ties on votes as well as, the at-large seat that was vacated by Fred Koontz on December 15th, 2021. Our letter calls upon the Governor to install commissioners that value hunting, angling and the North American model of wildlife conservation. The Washington Chapter was able to gain support and cosigners to the letter from the following groups: Inland Northwest Wildlife Council, Western Bear Foundation, Richland Rod and Gun Club, Ducks Unlimited, Inland Empire Safari Club International, Northwest Sportsmen’s Club, Sportsmen’s Alliance, Wenatchee Sportsmen Association, and the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.

Additionally, we are engaged in conversations with influential organizations and stakeholders that are communicating directly with the Office of the Governor on this issue.

Our letter can be found here: 

WA_Gov._sign_on_letter_WDFW_12.15.21.pdf

  • The last action item is contacting the Senate Natural Resources Committee, who provides a recommendation to the Washington State Senate to either confirm or reject the Governor appointed Commission Members. BHA will be sending an action alert next week to funnel public comments to the Senate Natural Resources Committee asking them to call for a confirmation hearing, and recommend rejecting Lorna Smith, the 2021 appointee, on the basis she is not acting in good faith and upholding her duty as a Commission member. Per RCW 77.04.055 “The commission shall maximize fishing, hunting, and outdoor recreational opportunities compatible with healthy and diverse fish and wildlife populations.”

We are proud of the coalitions we have built over the recent weeks to engage on these issues. We have reached out to regional organizations and national conservation groups to build momentum and develop strategy to protect hunting and angling, access and opportunity. The Washington Chapter will keep you up to date as more information becomes available. If you have questions, please feel free to reach out to the WA Chapter at [email protected].

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