Black bear timber damage depredation permits

Rule-making status: Permanent
Rule-making reference: #P2019-07

Summary of proposed rule

Purpose of the proposal and its anticipated effects, including any changes in existing rules: The proposed amendments to WAC 220-440-210 Black bear timber damage depredation permits, if adopted, would repeal an existing rule and replace it with a new rule to provide a permitting process to issue permits to persons to lethally remove black bears to reduce damage to commercial timber. Peeling and consuming tree parts by black bears often results in permanent damage or death to the tree. This damage results in a financial loss to the tree owner. The proposed rule, if adopted, would identify how permits are applied for, applications are reviewed and issued or denied, conditioned, and administered. A black bear timber damage permit issued under the proposed rule would allow a person to remove one or more black bears as conditioned on the removal permit. The proposed rule, if adopted, would not apply to federal employees and agents while acting in their official capacities for the purpose of protecting private property.

Scope and rationale for proposed rule

Reasons supporting proposal: A CR-101 was filed on February 28, 2019, when WDFW began considering revisions to WAC 220-440-210 when it was challenged in a lawsuit. The court of appeals eventually concluded that current text in WAC 220-440-210 exceeded WDFW’s statutory authority. On March 18, 2023, the Fish and Wildlife Commission voted in response to a rule making petition to initiate rulemaking to amend WAC 220-440-210 Black bear timber damage with a proposal to initiate rule making on Black Bear Timber Damage. Black bear timber damage removal permits are a tool to assist landowners with removal of bears causing timber damage in the spring of the year. Washington State black bear population is robust and an annual spring permitting process for bear removals is sustainable. WDFW is proposing a rule that includes a Page 2 of 3 process for application for permits and for review and issuance of permits. The proposed rule includes a prohibition on the harvest of offspring and females with offspring that would minimize the potential of orphaning cubs.

Public comments

To submit comments, please visit the Black Bear Timber Damage Rule Making public engagement page.

You may also leave comments by sending an email, either with or without an attachment, to black-bear-timber-damage@PublicInput.com or by leaving a voicemail message at 855-925-2801 and entering project code# 5474.

The (extended) comment period ends at 11:59 pm on October 27, 2023.

Public hearing

October 27-28, 2023.

In person at:
NRB - 1111 Washington St. SE
Olympia, WA 98501 - Room 172

And online via Zoom Webinar:
Information on how to register to testify at the public hearing is available at:
http://wdfw.wa.gov/about/commission.meetings, or contact the Commission office at 360-902-2267.

State Environmental Policy Act (SEPA)

SEPA determination: DNS

This rule making has undergone SEPA review for environmental impacts and WDFW has issued a SEPA determination, DNS 23-035. Please visit WDFW's SEPA page for more information.

Assistance for additional accessibility and persons with disabilities contact:
833-885-1012, TTY (711), or CivilRightsTeam@dfw.wa.gov.