Spring recreational black bear hunting was banned indefinitely by the state of Washington, US. The state Fish and Wildlife Commission voted 5-4 on 18th November 2022 against recreational black bear hunting in the spring, which equates to a ban on the annual practice. However, this ban may be temporarily suspended if the commission thinks it needs to address certain management objectives, such as timber damage, achieving ungulate management objectives, or human-wildlife conflict issues. This year, this controversial hunting season was paused due to a similar vote in 2021, but in January 2022, the commission reopened the debate over whether to allow hunters an abbreviated spring black bear season after receiving multiple petitions. Until now, Washington was one of eight states that allowed licensed hunters to kill black bears for sport during the spring.
Sophia Ressler, from the Center for Biological Diversity, said, “ending this cruel, unnecessary and unpopular spring hunt is a big win for Washington’s black bears. There’s no reason why hunters should be targeting vulnerable bears as they emerge from hibernation with babies to feed.” Samantha Bruegger, executive director of Washington Wildlife First, said, “After a lengthy and often painful process, the Commission has finally made it clear that Washington will no longer have a recreational spring bear hunt. It has long been clear that the Washington public is overwhelmingly opposed to recreational spring bear hunting.”
Although this may give a breather to these heavily hunted species (the number one species hunted for trophies in the world, and the reason why Canada is the number one exporter of hunting trophies), sadly the bears’ persecution will continue during other times of the year. Black bears can be legally hunted in Washington for recreation from 1st August until the middle of November. A big game hunting license is required, and each hunter is allowed to kill two black bears per season.