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.”
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.