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Bear Hunting In Washington

Victory!!! Washington's Spring Bear Trophy Hunt Stopped

In a MONUMENTAL win, WDFW Commissioners voted 5-4 to end the spring bear hunt in Washington. The WDFW received over 26,000 comments regarding reinstating the state's spring bear hunt. Many commissioners stated that they read every public comment and thanked the public for weighing in. The five commissioners who voted against the spring bear hunt said the science did not support the hunt and that sustainability should not be the only question asked. They also noted that bear/trophy hunters argued that those who opposed the hunt acted on emotion. Commissioner John Lehmkuhl pointed out that many of the arguments put forth by the hunters were emotionally based. It is incredible what we can accomplish when working together. We humbly and graciously thank every person who signed our petition, wrote a public comment, gave testimony at the commission meeting, called, and emailed.

We also commend the commissioners who voted against the spring bear hunt. Our collective voices were heard. Thank you, Bear Defenders! Please email the WDFW Commissioners who voted against the hunt and thank them for listening to the overwhelming majority of their stakeholders.


Commissioner, Lorna Smith.

Commissioner, Tim Ragen.

Commissioner, Melanie Rowland.

Commissioner, Barbara Baker.

Commissioner, John Lehmkuhl

General Bear Hunting Information

Hunting Methods - Fair Chase

An estimated 200 years ago, both Grizzly Bears and Black Bears roamed all across the State of Washington. In the 1800s, they were heavily hunted, and without regulations for their pelts. Both species populations took a hit, but particularly the Grizzlies. There are now only about 50-70 Grizzlies in the State, residing in two Grizzly Bear Recovery Zones.


When Did Bear Hunting Start In Washington?

Regulated black bear hunting began in 1982.


Is The State Broken Down Into BMUs (Bear management units)?

The State is broken down into 11 Hunt Zones, each subdivided into Game Management Units (GMUs)


Hunt Zones:

  • Coastal: GMUs 501, 504, 506, 530, 601, 602, 603, 607-621, 636-651, 658-663, 672-684

  • Puget Sound: GMUs 407, 454, 624, 627, 633, 652, 666, 667

  • North Cascades: GMUs 418-421, 426-450, 460

  • South Cascades: GMUs 466, 485*, 503, 505, 510-520, 524, 550-574, 653, 654

  • Okanogan: GMUs 203, 209-243

  • East Cascades: GMUs 244-247, 249-251, 328, 329-368, 382, 388, 578

  • Northeastern A: GMUs 101-121, 204

  • Northeastern B: GMUs 124-130

  • Blue Mountains: GMUs 145-154, 162-186

  • Columbia Basin: GMUs 133, 136, 139, 142, 248, 254, 260-290, 371-381

  • Long Island: GMU 699

When Is Bear Hunting Season?

Aug 1 - Nov 15: Coastal, Puget Sound, North Cascades, East Cascades, and Columbia Basin Hunt Zones.

Aug 15 - Nov 15: South Cascades, Okanogan, and Northeastern B Hunt Zones

Sept 1 - Nov 15: Northeastern A, Blue Mountains, and Long Island Hunt Zones


Note: During these seasons, any legal weapons may be used with the exception of The Long Island Hunt Zone, which is an Archery only Zone.


What Weapons Are Permitted?

Archery: Longbows, Recurve bows, Compound bows of no specific draw weight limit; Crossbows with a draw weight minimum of 125 pounds; Arrows and Bolts weighing a minimum of 350 grains;  Broadheads a minimum of 7/8 inch in width.


Firearms: Centerfire Rifles .24 caliber or larger; Handguns .24 caliber centerfire

cartridge or larger; Shotguns that are either 20 or 10 gauge shooting slugs or #1 or larger buckshot.

Muzzleloaders: Muzzleloading Shotguns, Rifles, or Handguns .45 caliber or larger; Shotguns and Rifles are required to have a single or double barrel, rifled or smooth-bored; Handguns are required to have a single or double barrel minimum of eight inches, must be rifled, and must be able to be loaded with forty-five grains or more of black powder.


Can Hunters Kill Cubs?

The State urges hunters not to shoot cubs or mothers with cubs, but they do not specify it as being illegal.


Can Hunters Kill A Bear Over Bait?

No. The use of bait is illegal.


Is Dog Hunting Permitted In Washington?

No. Hunting bears with dogs is illegal.

What Procedure Must Hunters Follow After They Kill a Bear?

Immediately after harvesting a bear, hunters must appropriately validate their hunting tag and visibly attach it to the carcass. All hunters are required to report the kill by January 31st of the following year by:

Calling 1-877-945-3492 or online at

What Is Their Reasoning for Hunting Bears?

  • Regulating bear population

  • Controlling nuisance problems

  • Recreational opportunity for sportsmen and women

What Is the Government Organization(s), That Is In Charge Of Bear Hunting/Wildlife?

  • Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)

  • Washington Wildlife Federation


When Does the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Hold Their Meetings?

The WDFW has ten scheduled meetings, along with nine scheduled conference calls. Dates, times and locations can be found here -


Are The Meetings Open to the Public?

Most meetings are open to the public. You can find the meeting dates, times and locations here -


Who Has the Power to Stop the Hunt?

The Governor and Washington’s elected General Assembly Members have the power to introduce and vote on proposed law changes.


Larry Carpenter, Chairman of the WDFW

Groups And Organizations That Oppose Bear Hunting.

Center for Biological Diversity -

Hunt Clubs and Organizations That Participate in and Fund Bear Hunting.

Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife -

Safari Club International - Seattle Pudget Sound Chapter:

Bear Paw Outfitters -

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