Attack on Bear Hunting in Washington. Your hunt is next.

RG_Adult_Onset_Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Ruch, Oregon
The spring bear season in Washington State was quietly suspended this year without much ado from the hunting public. You might not have hear about this because it was done via a kind of odd rule making process administered by the WDFW special Commission. I did a more informative post in the Washington state specific issues forum HERE, but I felt the need to broadcast this to a larger audience. The way this went down is a blueprint for how hunting as a whole could be dismantled piecemeal by anti-hunting groups. We need to be proactive in our defense of science based wildlife management.

In the end it only took convincing 4 people to deprive myself and other Washington hunters of the ability to hunt bear in the Spring. Fall will be next, then cougar, then small game, then deer, then elk. We need to be active in preventing any losses here. Here is the letter I sent to the WDFW special committee today. If you know anyone who hunts in Washington state, please help them find there voice to talk to these people. The can be contacted at

[email protected]
509-892-1001, please call and respectfully push back on this decision:

In Defense of the Spring Bear Hunt

My name is Ryan Garrett; I hunt bears to provide better nutrition for my family than can be found at the local grocery store. I started with that sentence because it is of key importance. Bear hunting is easily and incorrectly vilified as a “trophy hunt”. Bear meat is highly valued among its hunters for its unique flavor and fat content. If that is not enough, RCW 77.08.010 makes it quite clear that it would be illegal for hunters to recklessly render that meat unfit for human consumption. To put it bluntly, calling bear hunting a “trophy hunt” is incorrect. Such terminology is meant to manipulate and should be regarded with skepticism.

I am dismayed that 4 members of the Fish and Wildlife Special Commission listened to such emotional rhetoric as opposed to the science-based approach recommended by WDFW staff. To each emotional point brought up in the special commission meeting there was a scientific response in support of the hunt. Some of the answers could have been clearer, or more forceful, which is why I am writing in today. While I would love to keep my comments strictly data-based, it’s impossible to do so while addressing what Fred Koontz framed as a “societal [acceptance] issue”.

The Humane Society has been one of the most vocal opponents of the spring bear hunt. In a press release after the vote they titled “Washington wildlife commissioners vote against spring 2022 trophy hunt of black bears and their cubs” they reiterated a number of their arguments against the “trophy” hunt. Since we keep records on this sort of thing, I wanted to rebut a few of their “facts”:

  • “Fact” No 1.Spring bear hunts are especially cruel because trophy hunters often kill mother bears with newborn cubs.”…” During the 2021 Washington spring bear hunt, trophy hunters killed 45 female bears, likely resulting in the orphaning and death of numerous cubs.
  • This statement is both mathematically and emotionally misleading. Of the animals inspected last year, only 1 out of the 124 inspected animals was a lactating female. Given what we know about the bi-annual reproduction of female bears, this number would likely be much higher if hunters were firing at the first bear they saw. Also, a quick glance at harvest reporting shows that significantly more males are killed than females. A reasonable scientific conclusion here is that hunters are being selective. For a fun thought exercise put yourself in the shoes of a bear hunter. If you are looking for a “trophy,” or for meat, would you rather target a 75lb sow, or a 500lb boar?
  • “Fact” No 2. Mother bears may forage at long distances from their cubs, resulting in hunters often killing lactating female bears. Hunters have difficulty determining the sex and nursing status of black bears.
  • Difficulty in determining sex does not equal randomized harvest as the harvest reporting I mentioned above demonstrates. It’s pretty difficult to identify sex and species of ducks while they are flying at high speed, but hunters legally have to do it every year. Mistakes can happen, but by and large hunters want healthy supplies of animals. Following our game laws and being conscientious about what we target (as the data shows is happening) allows us to achieve that goal. This statement by the humane society is laughably false because of the word “often” - one lactating female out of last years’ sample group does not meet that criteria.
  • “Fact” No 3. “Bears are highly intelligent, and provide specific benefits to the ecosystem, spreading more seeds than birds, opening up forest canopies allowing sunlight to filter to the forest floor and enhancing biological diversity, and their feeding habits near riparian corridors help to fertilize trees with fish carcasses and their own nitrogen-rich urine. New research also finds that bears act as shields for gray foxes from other larger carnivores.
  • This is another emotionally misleading argument. It’s aimed to answer the question “Should we have bears?” This never should be a question any sane person would answer “No” to. It doesn’t answer a more complicated question of how we manage bear populations within a heavily managed ecosystem. Like it or not, human impact requires us to manage wildlife and wildland. Removing management tools based on popularity is not a good idea.
It was distressing to hear Mr. Koontz disparaging the science that that WDFW came up with in support of the hunt. The data captured by WDFW and its interpretation thereof IS science. To qualify it as not being such showed a callous disregard for countless officials collecting and working with this data for the aim of conservation. His halfhearted apology for disparaging this science as not being science was not adequate in my opinion. What would be adequate is for Mr. Koontz to clearly admit that this is an issue of public outcry and nothing more. Then we could at least proceed with our discussion on the subject in good faith.

A large number of vociferous folks have spoken out against the spring bear hunt. I would suspect you might have heard from more hunters in the public comment session had the issue been framed as an ethical debate on bear hunting (which it absolutely was not) and had the meeting not been scheduled in the middle of deer season. Sentiment does not always set good policy. Taxes are not popular, but we do need them. If the decision to suspend the bear hunt was purely to promote wildlife well-being, hunters would be the first in line to thank the committee for their sound judgement.

I’d like a chance to talk to the committee members for a brief time, if only to better understand what reasoning was applied. My hope is that I can better frame the argument that hunting as a way of life should not be dismantled one piece at a time. It is my way of taking direct responsibility for how my life is sustained. I’d be willing to argue the ethics of that any day.

Thank you for your time,



Ryan Garrett

Bear Hunter

Colville, WA 99114
 

Caseknife

Active member
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Messages
333
Location
NE Washington
Pretty bad when our Game Commission is comprised mostly of predator lovers. Gone are the days of the commission being actual hunters and fishermen. Ballot box biology is the norm now in Washington.
 

kwyeewyk

Well-known member
Joined
Feb 22, 2019
Messages
967
Location
Washington
The commission is meeting today and tomorrow to discuss other things, but tomorrow (Friday 12/3) at 9am they are taking "general public comment". I'm hoping to login and voice my displeasure.
Do you have info on how people can attend? Thanks
 

ccc23454

Well-known member
Joined
Sep 22, 2010
Messages
2,327
Location
Wyoming
I would go at this at a different angle since so many will go after loss of hunting season. You would have to get data and have facts ready but i would ask commission about funding, people get terribly defensive about money. Since services (enforcement/licensing etc.) from WDFW are being reduced by X.X% on a annual basis, i would expect the current budget to be reduced by atleast same amount. How will these cuts effect other services possibly in future and where do you plan to make these cuts?
 

RG_Adult_Onset_Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Ruch, Oregon
Thanks to all that commented in the public forum today. I was among them.

We need to also put pressure on Jay Inslee to fill that 9th position (an eastern Washington seat) on the commission. That seat would likely have favorable views to the hunting community as it will come from a rural area. That is an important part about how we fix this. The issue will be brought back up in September-November of 2022 in order to set the season for 2023.

Also on the docket next year is the entire Game Management Plan. Jim Anderson (the only commissioner who took the time to call me back) mentioned that the GMP is what sets the scope of the rulemaking process for the next 6 years. Rules must be set within the scope of the GMP so we need to be vocal this year or lose our opportunities in a lot of areas. He mentioned that they are kicking around a 4pt minimum (that's on one antler) for whitetail in the Northeast Washington area. That is a trophy hunting management strategy and I am opposed to it especially in the context of how much anti-trophy hunting sentiment can be drummed up against us (even when we are not trophy hunters). It also removed tools from the management toolkit should CWD cross the border from Idaho.

A lot of ire has been directed to Lorna Smith which I do understand, but I think Fred Koontz also needs to be held accountable for the way he denigrated WDFW staff science.

Keep reaching out and make yourself heard, and keep pushing on these issues. It does make a difference.
 

Pmacc60

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 3, 2021
Messages
282
Also quick thing....if you did not get a chance to comment today you can still email.

[email protected]

Let them know.
Great job for getting the information out there, I fired off a letter and will continue to follow this . It is important ant we all support our Washington State hunting friends because this could and does happen to us all. When our Washington hunters lose out on their rights we all do! Feel free to pm me if you need further support and I’ll keep complaining .
 
Last edited:

RG_Adult_Onset_Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Ruch, Oregon
We need that 9th special commission seat filled by Jay Inslee's office. I will be contacting them and letting them know that because this issue impacts my ability to feed my family, you can bet I will vote on it. This is who to contact in that regard. We also need to specify that we need a hunter conservationist in that position.

JT Austin
Senior Policy Advisor, Natural Resources
360-902-0638
[email protected]

Keep your comments respectful and on point. We win by being more informed and more insistent on these issues. Draw as much common ground in your comments as you can.
 

RG_Adult_Onset_Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Ruch, Oregon
I would go at this at a different angle since so many will go after loss of hunting season. You would have to get data and have facts ready but i would ask commission about funding, people get terribly defensive about money. Since services (enforcement/licensing etc.) from WDFW are being reduced by X.X% on a annual basis, i would expect the current budget to be reduced by atleast same amount. How will these cuts effect other services possibly in future and where do you plan to make these cuts?
I did a record request on this very subject today. The revenue for the spring bear hunt is a matter of public record and I have asked for those numbers. Funny that I went this route during the bear ban in California but forgot this line of reasoning on this one. Thanks for the reminder, I'll be bringing it up when I talk to the people at Gov. Inslee's office tomorrow.
 
J

Jason73

Guest
Pretty bad when our Game Commission is comprised mostly of predator lovers. Gone are the days of the commission being actual hunters and fishermen. Ballot box biology is the norm now in Washington.
Don't feel alone. Denver voted to bring us wolves.
 

RG_Adult_Onset_Hunter

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
221
Location
Ruch, Oregon
My email to JT Austin (seems her voicemail is full)

My name is Ryan Garrett and today I am writing in regards to the WDFW Special Commission and its recent split decision that resulted in the suspension of the 2022 spring bear hunt. I am asking for your help to recommend a hunter conservationist be placed in the 9th seat of the commission. Leaving that seat unfilled takes away my voice on these issues, and is unacceptable. I saw that you had linked an article on your Linkedin account that said “I’m always in deep respect of people who listen, think, and change their convictions based on facts, their values and lived experience.” I hope that is true.



I hunt in order to provide my family with a more ethical, healthful source of protein than I could get at any grocery store. Because this issue impacts my ability to feed my family, you can bet that I vote on it. The decision to suspend the hunt was largely based on the premise that somehow “trophy” hunters were slaughtering female bears with cubs.



This is not borne out in the harvest data (every single bear is checked by WDFW and only 1 bear out of 145 taken in the 2021 spring season was a lactating female). More importantly I object to the verbiage “trophy hunt”, this implies that a hunter is interested in nothing more than a large hide. I’m eating bear meat tonight, it’s delicious and a key source of the fat that is lacking in other game animals. Hunters are required by law to take the meat. If you think of bear hunting as a trophy hunt, you have been misled, if you call it a trophy hunt, you are misleading others. Because I took responsibility for the animals death in order to sustain my own, I utilize as much of each animal as possible to minimize my negative impact on the world. If you eat, you harm. I am just trying to know exactly how much. Being called unethical for this mindful approach to my existence, and having my public officials tacitly agree has been a wounding experience for me.



As you probably already know, hunter dollars are what largely fund conservation efforts in this country through the sale of licenses, tags, and excise taxes on equipment. This decision presents a monetary blow in two ways. First, it cuts off revenue from a very coveted tag sale. Second, it forces the government to spend more money on dealing with conflict bears. This move didn’t make fiscal sense. As a taxpayer that is frustrating.



Please help me get that seat filled by someone that respects the science of our WDFW staff biologists, and help me get a rule change in place that instates a status quo policy in the event of WDFW special Commission split decisions. Canceling the hunt entirely based on a failure to agree on how many tags should be issues and it what areas is a failure to govern and it reflects poorly on Mr. Inslee.



Thank you for your time.



Ryan Garrett

Bear Hunter.
 

RyanSoNorCal

Active member
Joined
Aug 16, 2019
Messages
138
The spring bear season in Washington State was quietly suspended this year without much ado from the hunting public. You might not have hear about this because it was done via a kind of odd rule making process administered by the WDFW special Commission. I did a more informative post in the Washington state specific issues forum HERE, but I felt the need to broadcast this to a larger audience. The way this went down is a blueprint for how hunting as a whole could be dismantled piecemeal by anti-hunting groups. We need to be proactive in our defense of science based wildlife management.

In the end it only took convincing 4 people to deprive myself and other Washington hunters of the ability to hunt bear in the Spring. Fall will be next, then cougar, then small game, then deer, then elk. We need to be active in preventing any losses here. Here is the letter I sent to the WDFW special committee today. If you know anyone who hunts in Washington state, please help them find there voice to talk to these people. The can be contacted at

[email protected]
509-892-1001, please call and respectfully push back on this decision:

In Defense of the Spring Bear Hunt

My name is Ryan Garrett; I hunt bears to provide better nutrition for my family than can be found at the local grocery store. I started with that sentence because it is of key importance. Bear hunting is easily and incorrectly vilified as a “trophy hunt”. Bear meat is highly valued among its hunters for its unique flavor and fat content. If that is not enough, RCW 77.08.010 makes it quite clear that it would be illegal for hunters to recklessly render that meat unfit for human consumption. To put it bluntly, calling bear hunting a “trophy hunt” is incorrect. Such terminology is meant to manipulate and should be regarded with skepticism.

I am dismayed that 4 members of the Fish and Wildlife Special Commission listened to such emotional rhetoric as opposed to the science-based approach recommended by WDFW staff. To each emotional point brought up in the special commission meeting there was a scientific response in support of the hunt. Some of the answers could have been clearer, or more forceful, which is why I am writing in today. While I would love to keep my comments strictly data-based, it’s impossible to do so while addressing what Fred Koontz framed as a “societal [acceptance] issue”.

The Humane Society has been one of the most vocal opponents of the spring bear hunt. In a press release after the vote they titled “Washington wildlife commissioners vote against spring 2022 trophy hunt of black bears and their cubs” they reiterated a number of their arguments against the “trophy” hunt. Since we keep records on this sort of thing, I wanted to rebut a few of their “facts”:

  • “Fact” No 1.Spring bear hunts are especially cruel because trophy hunters often kill mother bears with newborn cubs.”…” During the 2021 Washington spring bear hunt, trophy hunters killed 45 female bears, likely resulting in the orphaning and death of numerous cubs.
  • This statement is both mathematically and emotionally misleading. Of the animals inspected last year, only 1 out of the 124 inspected animals was a lactating female. Given what we know about the bi-annual reproduction of female bears, this number would likely be much higher if hunters were firing at the first bear they saw. Also, a quick glance at harvest reporting shows that significantly more males are killed than females. A reasonable scientific conclusion here is that hunters are being selective. For a fun thought exercise put yourself in the shoes of a bear hunter. If you are looking for a “trophy,” or for meat, would you rather target a 75lb sow, or a 500lb boar?
  • “Fact” No 2. Mother bears may forage at long distances from their cubs, resulting in hunters often killing lactating female bears. Hunters have difficulty determining the sex and nursing status of black bears.
  • Difficulty in determining sex does not equal randomized harvest as the harvest reporting I mentioned above demonstrates. It’s pretty difficult to identify sex and species of ducks while they are flying at high speed, but hunters legally have to do it every year. Mistakes can happen, but by and large hunters want healthy supplies of animals. Following our game laws and being conscientious about what we target (as the data shows is happening) allows us to achieve that goal. This statement by the humane society is laughably false because of the word “often” - one lactating female out of last years’ sample group does not meet that criteria.
  • “Fact” No 3. “Bears are highly intelligent, and provide specific benefits to the ecosystem, spreading more seeds than birds, opening up forest canopies allowing sunlight to filter to the forest floor and enhancing biological diversity, and their feeding habits near riparian corridors help to fertilize trees with fish carcasses and their own nitrogen-rich urine. New research also finds that bears act as shields for gray foxes from other larger carnivores.
  • This is another emotionally misleading argument. It’s aimed to answer the question “Should we have bears?” This never should be a question any sane person would answer “No” to. It doesn’t answer a more complicated question of how we manage bear populations within a heavily managed ecosystem. Like it or not, human impact requires us to manage wildlife and wildland. Removing management tools based on popularity is not a good idea.
It was distressing to hear Mr. Koontz disparaging the science that that WDFW came up with in support of the hunt. The data captured by WDFW and its interpretation thereof IS science. To qualify it as not being such showed a callous disregard for countless officials collecting and working with this data for the aim of conservation. His halfhearted apology for disparaging this science as not being science was not adequate in my opinion. What would be adequate is for Mr. Koontz to clearly admit that this is an issue of public outcry and nothing more. Then we could at least proceed with our discussion on the subject in good faith.

A large number of vociferous folks have spoken out against the spring bear hunt. I would suspect you might have heard from more hunters in the public comment session had the issue been framed as an ethical debate on bear hunting (which it absolutely was not) and had the meeting not been scheduled in the middle of deer season. Sentiment does not always set good policy. Taxes are not popular, but we do need them. If the decision to suspend the bear hunt was purely to promote wildlife well-being, hunters would be the first in line to thank the committee for their sound judgement.

I’d like a chance to talk to the committee members for a brief time, if only to better understand what reasoning was applied. My hope is that I can better frame the argument that hunting as a way of life should not be dismantled one piece at a time. It is my way of taking direct responsibility for how my life is sustained. I’d be willing to argue the ethics of that any day.

Thank you for your time,



Ryan Garrett

Bear Hunter

Colville, WA 99114
Is this a legit post? My name is Ryan Garrett and I’m active on HT. I hunt bear but live in CA.
 

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