In a double victory for Washington black bears, a state wildlife commission canceled a controversial spring hunt in 2022 and insisted on gathering more data in order to revise the state’s policy – which likely will lead to also nixing a proposed 2023 spring hunt.

The Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission in March nixed the proposed 2022 spring bear hunt with a 5-4 vote. Several commissioners said they wanted more information about existing black bear populations and the impact of the spring hunt, and also that they wanted that information in order to rewrite the state’s policy prior to a possible 2023 spring hunt. 

Given that policy revisions can be laborious, the common-sense desire – for policy to be informed by documented evidence and data – means a spring bear hunt likely won’t be happening in 2023, the Spokesman-Review reported.

The spring bear hunts are controversial, as starving and sluggish bears emerging from their winter hibernations are easy targets for hunters with high-powered guns. Although the proposed policy prohibits hunters from shooting female bears with cubs, foraging mamas aren’t always with their babies and so are still shot – leaving the defenseless cubs likely to be orphaned by exposure to the elements, predation, or starvation.

At least one lactating mama bear was shot to death by hunters during the permitted 2021 hunt – one casualty among the 145 total bears shot to death.

Lady Freethinker sent our petition opposing the spring bear hunt, signed now by almost 45,000 people, to the department during the public comment. Thank you to everyone who signed!

Commissioners also heard from others who denounced the hunt, with one commissioner noting during this year’s discussion that the lengthy and heated discussions about the infamous hunts likely would continue while “creating a lot of conflict and negative energy” until the policy was adequately revised, according to news reports.

WDFW has now opened a public comment period for the proposed 2023 spring bear hunt – and bears still need your voice!

If you haven’t already, please sign our petition denouncing these cruel hunts – for 2023 or any other year. 

Then, if you are a Washington State resident, please take a moment to directly reach out to WDFW to politely let them know you do not support these inhumane hunts and would like to see a permanent end to these vicious killings. 

Public comments can be submitted by the department’s online form, by email to [email protected], or via voicemail by calling 855-925-2801 and inputting Project Code 4328. 

Please be aware that public comments are part of the public record and can be viewed by others, including any personal contact information you may include (which is not necessary to submit your comment).

SIGN: Stop Brutal Black Bear Hunt in Washington That Kills Mothers and Orphans Cubs