The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission is once again considering whether it should authorize a spring bear hunt for 2022.
This hunt has been approved by the commissioners in the past with little public knowledge or approval. This killing occurs at a time when bears are just emerging from their hibernation and have ravenous appetites. They become easy targets as they search for food to replenish their energy.
Recently born cubs are especially at risk from being killed outright or dying from starvation if their mothers are killed. The department even finds it acceptable if 35-39% of the bears killed are females, saying only that the department “urges” hunters not to kill female bears with cubs.
The spring hunt runs from April 15 to June 15 and the fall hunt picks up again on Aug. 1 and is open through Nov. 15. That means that bears are hunted and killed in this state in every month that they are not hibernating except July. The department refers to this killing as “harvesting” as if these animals were nothing more than so many bushels of wheat.
For this spring hunt, WDFW is proposing to kill 50 bears in our immediate area, namely Copalis Game Managements Units 638, 642 and 648. This is a totally unnecessary and barbaric hunt which is referred to as “recreational.” Recreational — a term that means killing these beautiful creatures for fun. They will be killed as trophies with their skins to be used as rugs or wall decorations.
All of the wildlife in our state is held in trust for all of its citizens and not for the exclusive use by a few. There is a balance that needs to be struck with the emphasis on conservation and ecological health. Right now, we are killing far too many animals to ensure a sustainable future. Unfortunately, too many of the commissioners do not understand the intrinsic value of these bears and see them only as hunting “opportunities.”
Please visit the Washington Wildlife First website at wawildlifefirst.org/campaigns/ to learn what you can do to help stop this tragedy.
David Linn is the Interim Executive Director, Washington Wildlife First, and an Ocean Shores resident.