Preservationists have filed yet another predator petition in Washington, this one asking the Fish and Wildlife Commission to essentially reverse recent bear and cougar hunting decisions.
Ultimately, they want WDFW to “immediately close cougar hunting upon reaching area-specific quotas and institute a statewide ‘bag limit’ of one bear per hunter,” according to a press release out today from eight in- and out-of-state organizations.
The petition focuses on the commission’s 2019 near unanimous vote to, essentially, allow hunters to take a second black bear in Eastern Washington, among other tweaks to the fall bruin season that were made permanent in 2021, and on the citizen panel’s 6-3 2020 decision around increased cougar harvest guidelines, based off of the most killed in the past five years and the assumption lion density is higher there, and only adult cats counted toward the revised quota, which is typically a range like five to seven and meant to keep within or close to 12 to 16 percent harvest threshold.
Petitioners call the moves “shortsighted and unscientific to allow hunters to kill so many” of the “rare and important” species.
Black bears and cougars are anything but rare in Washington, and certainly petitions aren’t either these days. In the coming days the commission will make decisions on those addressing wolf-livestock conflict rules and fishing for trout in wild steelhead streams.
This latest petition follows on recent talk by some commissioners about revisiting bear and cougar hunting. It was filed by Washington Wildlife First, Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Mountain Lion Foundation, WildFutures, Predator Defense, Coexisting with Cougars in Klickitat County and Kettle Range Conservation Group
“WDFW has just received this petition and has not yet had time to review it in-depth,” stated agency spokesman Chase Gunnell. “Wildlife Program staff will spend time assessing the petition thoroughly in the coming weeks. The Fish and Wildlife Commission has 60 days to respond to a petition. The Commission will confer with Wildlife Program staff then add it to a Commission agenda within that window.”
While the petitioners claim in their 76-page filing that the Evergreen State’s cat and bruin populations “may have already sustained severe damage” from the commission’s past decisions, Brian Lynn of the Sportsmen’s Alliance ain’t buying it.
“This is just more of the same nonsense we’ve come to expect in Washington from those pulling the political strings in the state,” stated the organization’s Spokane-area-based vice president of marketing and communications. “Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society of the United States and Washington Wildlife First have hundreds of millions of dollars and an agenda they’re pushing with the full support of the governor, Attorney General’s Office and the Fish and Wildlife Commission. They want to end hunting in Washington and use it as a blueprint to do so in other states. That’s why we’ve had to turn to the courts to protect scientific wildlife management.”