The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission has denied a petition to reinstate a spring bear hunt in 2024.

The petitioner asked the commission to negate a previous decision to not adopt recreational hunting of black bear in the spring, claiming it was invalid due to a recent court case ruling involving a commissioner.

During Friday's meeting to consider the petition, Anis Aoude, Game Division Manager of Wildlife Program, successfully argued that the ruling in the case did not result in any changes in the commission.

"That decision did not change the commission nor has a vote been revisited on that motion. From our perspective, that decision still stands so we're recommending you deny this petition." Aoude said.

In Aoude's presentation summary, the public was given notice of these petitions through the commission agenda and had an opportunity to submit written comment. There was no public involvement directly related to this petition prior to its submission.

Subsequently, the commission voted to deny the petition.

In November 2022, the commission voted to end spring bear hunting in Washington State after opponents argued hunters shouldn't be allowed to target vulnerable bears as they emerge from hibernation with babies to feed.

“Ending this cruel, unnecessary and unpopular spring hunt is a big win for Washington’s black bears,” said Sophia Ressler, a staff attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. "It will protect helpless young cubs and end the pointless cruelty of this solely recreational hunt.”

Prior to the 2022 vote, Washington was one of only eight states in the country that still allowed a spring bear hunt. Black bears are found in 41 states.

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