Is there a way to get the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission to reconsider its mid-November tie vote that put the the 2022 spring black bear permit season on hold?
“Our rules can be petitioned,” a Spokane commissioner and birder pointed out to MeatEater today. “I don’t know if it could happen fast enough, but there’s a whole process and we have to respond to a rule petition. I think it’s a 60-day turnaround.”
In what amounts to a second major national piece covering the issue this week (Outdoor Life posted an opinion Monday), Kim Thorburn also told reporter Travis Hall that she didn’t think anybody had considered that route yet.
There’s also a Change.org signature drive asking Governor Inslee to permanently reinstate the hunt and that has now picked up over 8,150 John and Jolene Hancocks since it was posted six days ago.
Given the state’s chief executive’s proclivity to bow to out-of-state predator activists and appoint pro-predator commissioners, that route is a very long shot, though no doubt it is helping raise awareness of the citizen panel’s 4-4 vote that was largely fueled by emotional and theoretical arguments that disregarded WDFW’s professional biologists’ and director’s judgments that the limited-entry “hunts do not impair or cause a concern for the bear population.”
The decisive fourth no was cast by the chair who couched his tabling vote as a chance for WDFW to “confirm the accuracy of our information and cover our bases in the assault on this hunt.”
So how about a petition to the commission?
They come up from time to time, and I can recall a few in recent years.
One earlier this year that asked the commission to again allow boat fishing on a 7-mile stretch of the Hoh River was denied, while another last year from a utility district requesting bait fishing be restricted during the hatchery summer Chinook and steelhead season on the Skykomish was also shot down, preserving a good fishing opportunity.
And back in June 2019, a Chewelah resident successfully got the commission to return the Colville River to a year-round fishery after it had been shortened during a wider rules simplification push.
Something to mull instead of spinning our wheels …
MeatEater included a handy link in its story to the form for asking state agencies and boards to adopt, amend or repeal administrative rules.
The document states that “The agency or institution will give full consideration to your petition and will respond to you within 60 days of receiving your petition.”
The application period for the 2022 spring bear hunt, with 664 permits proposed, was scheduled to run January 1-February 28, with season beginning April 15.
It’s unclear yet whether WDFW will allow hunters to at least put in for points next year or is considering the entire process including the draw on pause.
Asked what would happen to bear hunters’ points if the spring season was not reinstated at some future point, e.g., whether they could be transferred to other species or just lost, agency spokeswoman Sam Montgomery stated, “We will not be reimbursing for past points accrued. These points can be used in future spring bear seasons if/when they continue. Points will not transfer to other species.”