Washington State: Ban on using baiting to hunt for bear is unconstitutional


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priv8ter
June 10, 2004, 12:12 PM
I thought about putting this in hunting, but I am much more interested in the legal aspects:


SEATTLE – Eight years ago, voters passed an initiative making it illegal to hunt bears using bait or dogs. Now that law may be in jeopardy.

A district court judge in Jefferson County says it's unconstitutional.

Does this mean it is once again legal to hunt bear using bait and hound?

The Department of Fish and Wildlife says no. This ruling comes from a district court with limited jurisdiction, but they do admit it will make prosecuting these cases much harder.

The charges against ten bear baiters were dropped this week after a district court judge in Jefferson County ruled a statewide law to be unconstitutional.
Game wardens say poaching is rampant in Washington's forests and some hunters boldly set out bait to lure in bears, then shooting them at close range.

"We find bear bait sites constantly," said Capt. Jay Webster, U.S. Forest Service. "It's a big problem… even though it's illegal. It's very effective."

Voters outlawed bear bait 8 years ago, also making it illegal to hunt bear and cougar with dogs.

Near Quinault last fall, officers raided a camp of about a dozen hunters, charging ten of them with bear baiting: Thomas Durham, James Durham, Christina Stannard, John West, Douglas Klamm, John Speleers, Burgess Drake, Craig Stevenson, Cory Johnson and Dale Steinhauer.

The accused ring leader, Tom Durham, denied doing anything wrong, and the charges against him and the others were dropped this week after a district court judge in Jefferson County ruled the initiative to be unconstitutional.

"What's wrong with it is, it refers to both baiting bears, hunting bears with bait, and also tracking cougars with dogs or hunting cougars with dogs," said defense attorney Linda Callahan. "And that in itself is two subjects, so it violates the rule."

"Well, certainly in Jefferson County, I don't think the prosecutor will file any more cases," said defense attorney John Stanislay. "What it means outside of Jefferson County at this point I'm not sure."

KING 5 asked: "But if you were a defense attorney in a neighboring county with one of these cases, wouldn't you make this argument now?"

"I definitely would make the argument, but I would not advise my client to go hunting with bait," said Stanislay.

The state Department of Fish and Wildlife says it's disappointed at the ruling.

"We're going to continue to enforce it. It's a statewide law," said Chief Bruce Bjork, Washington Dept. Fish & Wildlife. "This is a district court decision in Jefferson County specific, so we'll continue to enforce it statewide."

But the prosecutor in Jefferson County who handled the case said he will not prosecute bear baiting cases if they are brought in because he believes the court ruling is clear and he does not intend to appeal.

Supporters of the initiative are calling the judge's ruling outrageous saying that 63 percent of the voters wanted to ban bear bait hunting as well as hunting with hounds, and they are hoping the state will appeal eventually.

The Attorney General's Office is still deciding whether to appeal the ruling. Bear hunting season opens August 1.


First of all, I am okay with the idea of 'hunting seasons'. Game hunting needs to be controlled, and poachers need to be punished. Maybe it's just the jealous side of me.

But, it's cool that the judge ruled this way. Kind of taking a stand. But...I guess where I am a little confused is, where does the Consitution protect baiting for bears? Then again...it doesn't say you can't either.

The only thing that makes me mad is the article itself. Finally, a judge whose name I want to remember, so that when he decides to run for something I can vote for him. And guess what, the article never uses his name. He is simply 'A disctrict court judge. Grrrrr....

And, on the heals of this ruling, I just found out that a High School 20 minutes from where I lived was locked down for an hour yesterday, because some students saw a black bear on campus. Even the Principal saw it. Crazy...

Here in Washington, most folks I know that buy a bear tag get one because they are cheap, and it's nice to have just in case you accidentaly jump one. If baiting becomes legal though...might be more incentive to get that ,45-70 barrel for my Handi-Rifle.

greg

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Don't Tread
June 10, 2004, 12:23 PM
Baiting does not equal hunting, it equals Shooting, I don't think it should be legal to bait any animal to shoot it, unless the animal is a direct threat, or you absolutley need to kill it in order to eat it

Whether or not it is constitutional is a stretch either way, in an ideal world it wouldn't even be an issue, No one would do it, I don't think baiting should be legal

Dogs are another story, how do you use dogs to hunt a bear anyways? besides tracking?

OF
June 10, 2004, 12:30 PM
Looks to me like the judge's ruling doesn't have anything to do with hunting, really. Only by coincidence that the unconstitutional law happened to involve hunting."What's wrong with it is, it refers to both baiting bears, hunting bears with bait, and also tracking cougars with dogs or hunting cougars with dogs," said defense attorney Linda Callahan. "And that in itself is two subjects, so it violates the rule." If I'm reading that right, the law was struck becuase it deals with 'two subjects'.

- Gabe

ojibweindian
June 10, 2004, 01:03 PM
Baiting does not equal hunting, it equals Shooting, I don't think it should be legal to bait any animal to shoot it, unless the animal is a direct threat, or you absolutley need to kill it in order to eat it

Do you hunt near an animal's natural food source? If so, I think you are practicing a form of hunting I like to call "natural baiting" :D

In all seriousness, there really isn't much difference in hunting over a food plot, hunting in or around a stand of mast-producing trees, or hunting over bait. The hunter needs to have enough skill to find out where his prey is located, be quiet and still while on his stand, and be a decent-enough shot to cleanly kill the animal.

That said, I do not hunt over bait because, in Alabama, it's illegal. But, even if it were, I still wouldn't because I don't wanna haul all that crap into the middle of the woods.

Tierhog
June 10, 2004, 09:33 PM
its the same arguement they used to overturn the 30 dollar tab initiative. More than one subject on an initiative violates the rules. What burns my butt is that the people who voted for this are the ones who have nevere even seen a bear in the wild, let alone hunted for one. Now that we can't hunt cougars with dogs they are running rampant, I saw a huge one at the prison I work at just last week. Its the same in every state that enacts these types of laws,

Oohh, look at the pretty kitty, we must protect them from the big mean hunters....Hey! Stop chewing on my head! Someone should do something about these damn cats!

Either way, the people lose.

Don't Tread
June 10, 2004, 11:31 PM
"Do you hunt near an animal's natural food source? If so, I think you are practicing a form of hunting I like to call "natural baiting"

In all seriousness, there really isn't much difference in hunting over a food plot, hunting in or around a stand of mast-producing trees, or hunting over bait. The hunter needs to have enough skill to find out where his prey is located, be quiet and still while on his stand, and be a decent-enough shot to cleanly kill the animal."



You point out, without realizing it, part of my point

"The hunter needs to have enough skill to find out where his prey is located"

by baiting the animal you are removing a major part of the skill required for hunting, instead of finding where the animal normally lives and eats, you bring the animal to where you want it to be

priv8ter
June 11, 2004, 12:35 AM
Tierhog, thanks for your input. I didn't know about the two subject requirement on initiatives. Guess I should have paid more attention in 7th Grade when we were learning about the initiative issue.

And for what it's worth, there has been a blurb in the hunting regs, and on the fish and game website that they are holding hearings to possibly allow using hounds on cougar in Eastern Washington, even before this treaty.

Seems there has been some kind of population growth in cougars lately. According to filed reports, only 91 cats were killed during hunting season last year.

greg

c_yeager
June 11, 2004, 02:32 AM
Its about time this whole "two subject" thing got turned around on the state. They used it to take away our $30 tabs, now they can reexamine every law they have ever passed. How many do you think could be considered to involve more that one "subject"?

I wonder how our machinegun ban is worded...

ojibweindian
June 11, 2004, 08:27 AM
by baiting the animal you are removing a major part of the skill required for hunting, instead of finding where the animal normally lives and eats, you bring the animal to where you want it to be

A simple test; go anywhere bears are not calling home, and set up some bear bait. Let me know how many bears come your way. I'll venture to guess none.

A hunter has to be good enough to tell if there are bears in the area before even bothering to set bait. And even then, using bait is no guarantee that a bear will show.

I'll also re-iterate that if you plant food plots, an argument canbe made that you're hunting over bait. If you set up a stand near a natural food source, you're hunting over "bait" set there by the Almighty.

El Rojo
June 11, 2004, 09:39 AM
If people were liberty minded, they wouldn't care how people hunt. It wouldn't matter if you want to hunt using bait or hunt walking around or hunt driving around. The end result is the animal is shot and killed; why does it matter how you do it as long as you try and make it quick and not destroy good meat?

I find it interesting that a member whose handle is "Don't Tread" appears to want to tread on hunter's rights in this case. Sure I wouldn't be a baiter myself, but if someone else wants to do it, let em. Same thing with the horsemeat ban here in the PRK. If someone wants to eat a stupid horse, let em. What kind of moronic electorate would care if someone ate horsemeat or not? Oh wait, the PRK. Nevermind.

The idea here is liberty. Let people decide these mundane details for themselves. If you don't believe baiting is real hunting, good for you, don't do it. However, you should have no right to tell me I can't do it. You might as well tell me that hunting with a semi-automatic is not real hunting and it requires less skill. Or hell, bows and arrows only!

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