Bear baiting is a practice used by hunters which lures a bear to an arranged killing spot. Bait stations are filled with sugary foods to attract bears, including nursing mothers and once baited to the station, the bears would be shot and killed.
Bear baiting is cruel and inhumane, and was adamantly voted against by Washingtonians in 1996. The current state laws on bear baiting were implemented as a result of the 1996 Washington Bear Baiting Act (Initiative 655), which categorized hunting for black bears with bait as a gross misdemeanor and got 63% public support.
In 2015 another bear baiting bill was introduced but thankfully did not have the support to move through the legislative system and died at the end of the 2016 session. Substitute House Bill (SHB) 1838 was introduced to allow landowners to place bait stations on their property to attract bears.
This bear baiting bill would have allowed landowners to kill bears before they become a nuisance by causing damage to trees, crops and livestock. However, not every bear is destructive, nor is every bear a nuisance, yet every bear is attracted to bait stations.
After a long winter of hibernation, bears are very hungry and looking for food. Mother bears with nursing cubs are in need of high caloric foods for herself and her family, therefore they are attracted to bait stations.
But once the mother is shot, her cubs will either be left to starve or will become nuisance bears by default!
Bears do sometimes strip bark from trees to acquire sap as a natural part of their diet. There are many proven alternatives to solving threats from wildlife to trees, crops and livestock, without cruel bear baiting practices.
Landowners should be empowered to try these first before asking for a bear to die.