Target: Joe Stohr, Acting Director of the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
Goal: Comply with court ruling to stop issuing permits allowing brutal hunting and trapping of black bears on timberlands, and move toward shutting down the program entirely.
No new permits will be issued by the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife authorizing inhumane methods of killing black bears, which were outlawed by state voters, on private timberlands. This is following outrage from activist groups and the public, including petitions like this one at ForceChange, and a recent ruling by a state court. The ruling comes as part of a case against the Department of Fish and Wildlife filed by the Center for Biological Diversity, challenging the legality of the program permitting the killing of certain bears as a whole.
After a winter of hibernation, bears are hungry, and when food is scarce they sometimes peel the bark from trees to eat the sapwood. The department’s program allows killing bears to protect commercial timberlands, but there is no evidence that the permits target tree-damaging bears—and even if there were, the unsporting methods of baiting, trapping, and using hounds are still illegal and unacceptable. In practice, the program only serves to create a private hunting season for favored hunters, completely disregarding the voices of Washington’s citizens as a whole.
A final decision will be issued by the court later in the year regarding the program in its entirety. In the meantime, the court’s ruling to stop any further issuing of permits is a much needed victory. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity states, “This ruling will save numerous bears from a cruel death, and that’s a big relief….In ruling against the department, the court recognized the risk to bears and the merits of our case against this inhumane bear-killing program. Now we’ll focus on shutting down the program for good.” Sign below to support this ruling and ensure that this inhumane program is stopped entirely.
Dear Director Stohr,
The state court’s ruling that the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife be suspended from issuing any new hunting permits for black bears on Washington’s timberlands is a vital step for the protection of innocent wildlife, as well as for Washington’s citizens, who voted to outlaw the inhumane hunting methods that your department’s permits allow. These unsporting methods like baiting, trapping, and using hounds are not acceptable under any circumstances, especially considering that there is no evidence that the program targets bears who have damaged property and are thereby excluded from the public’s hunting outlaw.
Your program effectively creates a private hunting season for those in the department’s favor, using methods deemed illegal by the people the government is supposed to represent. You have a responsibility to those people, as well as to your state’s wildlife, which your department should be protecting. As Collette Adkins of the Center for Biological Diversity says, “In ruling against the department, the court recognized the risk to bears and the merits of our case against this inhumane bear-killing program… We think the court will ultimately decide that those permits should never have been issued, and we urge the department to immediately suspend all outstanding permits.” Please heed this advice and protect Washington’s black bears.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Brigitte Werner