Judge temporarily halts certain bear hunts on timberland

Black bear in tree in Mukilteo. (Credit: Mukilteo Police Department.)

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A Thurston County judge has granted a temporary injunction to stop Washington wildlife managers from issuing new permits to kill black bears on private timberland using certain hunting methods.

The Center for Biological Diversity sued the Department of Fish and Wildlife last month, alleging it exploits narrow exceptions to two voter-approved initiatives by allowing hunters to use bait, dogs and body-gripping traps to kill bears on private commercial timberland.

The injunction issued Friday by Superior Court Judge Carol Murphy suspends that specific program until the court can review the case. It does not affect permits already issued.

The state had argued that issuing the injunction would lead to significant property damage. Murphy ordered the conservation group to post a $100,000 bond.

The lawsuit says the state has authorized about 900 black bears to be killed using bait, dogs and traps since 2010.