Tag Archives: timber damage

Judge Orders WDFW To Not Issue New Bear Damage Permits, Pending CBD $100K Bond Payment

A Thurston County Superior Court judge says WDFW can’t issue new black bear timber depredation permits as soon as an environmental group pays a steep $100,000 bond.

Center For Biological Diversity, which sued the state agency in late May over what it contends is an illegal hunting program, has until June 20th to round the money up.

A PEELED TREE IN THE TIGER MOUNTAIN STATE FOREST EARLIER THIS SPRING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

“Although the harm is monetary, it is significant to property owners, and for that reason the court is declining to issue a nominal bond in this case,” said Judge Carol Murphy in video tweeted out from the courtroom by KING 5 reporter Alison Morrow, who has been chasing this story for more than a year.

If CBD doesn’t pay, the judge won’t issue preliminary injunctive relief to the Arizona-based organization.

But if it does on or before the 20th, WDFW couldn’t issue more permits as soon as one business day later.

The case stems from 1996’s I-655 and to a lesser degree 2000’s I-713, which while banning hunting bears with bait or dogs and body-gripping traps, provided exemptions for problem wildlife.

However, CBD says the program WDFW subsequently created to address bears that in spring gnaw on the bark of young Douglas firs, hemlocks and other species to get at a sugary sap underneath, often killing the commercially valuable trees, “does not fall within these narrow exceptions.”

Should the payment be made, Murphy said the court is willing to hold a judicial review of CBD’s petition “on an expedited basis.”

Morrow reports that the $100,000 bond is for damages to tree farm operators should the environmental group lose the case.

WDFW Sued Over Black Bear Timber Damage Removal Program

Two weeks after a Thurston County judge dismissed one lawsuit against WDFW, over wolves, the Center for Biological Diversity is back in superior court with another, this one concerning the removal of black bears damaging valuable private timber.

The Arizona-based outfit contends that the state agency is running “a program that illegally issues permits for the hunting of black bears using bait, dogs, and traps, in violation of both the spirit and the letter of initiatives passed by Washington voters banning such cruel and inhumane hunting practices.”

A PEELED TREE IN THE TIGER MOUNTAIN STATE FOREST EARLIER THIS SPRING. (ANDY WALGAMOTT)

WDFW spokesman Bruce Botka said the lawsuit had just come in and did not have a comment on it.

The lawsuit is the latest example of how state wildlife management has come increasingly under the microscope in recent years, especially bears, wolves and cougars, and primarily by entities that the Associated Press story on this labeled as “conservation groups” but really are highly litigious environmental organizations with different aims than true conservationists.

It stems from 1996’s I-655 and to a lesser degree 2000’s I-713, which while banning hunting bears with bait or dogs and body-gripping traps, provided exemptions for problem wildlife.

However, CBD says the program that was subsequently created to address bears that in spring gnaw on the bark of young Douglas firs, hemlocks and other species to get at a sugary sap underneath, often killing the commercially valuable trees, “does not fall within these narrow exceptions.”

It says that since 2010, WDFW has OKed killing 900 bears damaging private timberlands through the use of hounds, bait and traps.

According to KING 5 reporter Alison Morrow, who has been reporting on the damage control hunt the past few years, including interviewing two top state officials about it, it does not necessarily remove the offending bear.

However, it does reduce the pool of potential problem animals, which appears to be the state’s and timber companies’ goals.

The question is whether how it’s being operated contravenes voters’ wishes.

CBD is asking a judge to find that WDFW is issuing damage control permits outside its authority, doing so is arbitrary and capricious and that all those issued this year be declared unlawful.