Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 1, 2022


Sophia Ressler, (206) 399-4004,

Arizona Game and Fish Fails to Ban Spring Bear Hunting With New Guidelines

In Finalizing Five-Year Hunt Guidelines, State Agency Makes Only Minor Improvements for Mountain Lions, Bears

PHOENIX, Ariz.— The Arizona Game and Fish Commission finalized new five-year hunting guidelines today that offer slightly better protections for mountain lions and bears but still fail to give the animals a fair chance, allowing hound hunting and a spring bear hunt to proceed.

The guidelines, which will be effective from 2023 to 2028, include small improvements for ecologically important carnivores; for instance, the agency has included language that aims to reduce pressure on the female mountain lion population. The guidelines also include a new habitat evaluation requirement for black bears that asks the state to consider impacts to the landscape and how they affect bear habitat.

“I’m glad about these small upgrades to the hunting guidelines, but Arizonans still need more from the state agency,” said Sophia Ressler, an attorney at the Center for Biological Diversity. “It is time for the state to start managing wildlife for all of us, not just the ones who hunt these ecologically important native carnivores.”

The agency failed to consider issues such as hound hunting, spring bear hunting, and lowering female mountain lion kill numbers to better protect the population. The Center and its partner organizations advocated strongly for these changes due to the lack of management rationale, cruelness of the hunting techniques, and concerns over orphaning bear cubs.

Recently Washington state voted to postpone its 2022 spring bear special-permit hunt based on similar concerns and a lack of information surrounding the hunt. The vote in Washington now makes Arizona one of only seven states that allows spring bear hunting. Black bears are found in 41 states.

The Arizona Game and Fish Department updates its hunting guidelines every five years. The Center and allies asked for scientifically supported updates to the guidelines to address how climate change, drought and other issues may harm carnivore populations.

“I’m hopeful that these little improvements to the guidelines are just the start. We’ll push to keep strengthening protections for bears and mountain lions in Arizona and make sure the agency hears from wildlife watchers and conservationists,” said Ressler.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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