Podcasts Focus Scrutiny On WDFW Commission

A pair of podcasts out this week scrutinize the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission and its recent controversial decisions around spring black bear hunting, attempts to write a new conservation policy and other moves.


Both come from the hunting side of the equation, with one alarmingly headlined “Junking the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” while on the other, a sitting commissioner talks about bringing in one of that model’s authors for an upcoming presentation to the citizen panel that oversees WDFW policies.

Both podcasts run two hours, so you’ll need a little time to listen to them, but they’re enlightening in their own ways and add to what I’ve been reporting on here since 2020 about the commission and building and quickening efforts toreformit and Washington fish and wildlife management, and I appreciate the wider attention being paid to it all.

On his Hunt Talk Radio podcast, well-known public lands hunting advocate Randy Newberg brings in Evergreen State hunters James Forslund and Kris Cantrell for a wide-ranging discussion on what they’re seeing with the commission, its governing mandate, how an expert state wildlife biologist was ignored on spring bears, and how to take the lessons being learned in Washington to play a better defense against reformists elsewhere.

Where the commission is said to be anti-hunting on that podcast, member John Lehmkuhl refutes that on the other broadcast, Elliott Outdoor’s The Broadside, pointing out how commissioners earlier this year ceded hunting season-setting to WDFW Director Kelly Susewind.

Maybe that was just to wash their hands of it, or to focus their time on policy and bigger-pic issues instead, but I’ll be interested to watch as the commission is briefed on the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation at its August 10-12 meetings. The presentation flows out of a request Lehmkuhl made back in March of this year. At the time – given all that was circulating around the commission and skeptical of him in particular – I was suspicious about what he might be up to.

But as he told the Broadside panel, none other than John Organ, one of the model’s several coauthors, is being brought in to talk about it.

“What I’m hoping he’s going to do – he’s written a lot about it – is say what it was intended to do, how people interpret it now these days, what it’s useful for, maybe what it’s not useful for in terms of how we work. I’m open to whatever he has to say about it, because he knows more about it than I do,” Lehmkuhl stated. “I hope that you guys get a lot out of that talk, and I think the Washington Wildlife First people would get a lot out of it, I think. We’ll see.”

Indeed, we will see.

Meanwhile, on Wednesday a third podcast was posted. This one features Commissioner Tim Ragen of Anacortes, who expands on his thoughts on why he voted against the limited-entry spring black bear permit hunt and other issues. Here are links to all three.

The Broadside: A Whale of a Time With Tim Ragen

The Broadside: No Horsing Around! Meeting With WDFW Commissioner John Lehmkuhl

Hunt Talk Radio: Junking the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation