As I have written about in the past, the pressure that the hunters put on the Commission to reinstate the spring bear hunt resulted in a special commission meeting on Friday, January 21st to consider the next steps to take. There was a lot of back and forth between the various commissioners during this meeting in determining those steps. On one side were the folks who clearly do not want a spring bear hunt and were willing to use whatever tactics or spin necessary to prevent it from happening. On the other side were the folks who were more willing to listen to the science and continue the hunt as additional information was gathered.
Because of a recent commission member stepping down, there was no way the seven-member commission was going to end in a tie with this vote. In the end, the vote was 4-3 to initiate a spring bear rule-making process, soon. So what this means is that in the coming weeks the State will begin a process of laying out the framework for establishing a spring bear hunt for the Spring of 2022. This process will include the season proposals, public comment period, and a final yes/no vote by the commission, again. Given the short turnaround, it is highly likely that the opening of a spring bear season, if approved, may move to early May as opposed to the normal April 15th opening.
I anticipate that the anti-hunting crowd will double down on their efforts to stop the hunt. Hunters must continue to step up and make their voices heard through this process as the fight is definitely not over.
To further muddy the waters, on Monday, January 24th the Governor appointed three new commissioners to serve, filling two vacant spots as well as one position that had expired. It is unknown how these new commissioners will vote on this issue as it comes to the commission in late March or April. Given who the governor has appointed to the commission in the past, sportsmen have a reason to be worried though. Stay tuned for more updates as the fight to retain our spring bear season in Washington continues.