They're here. The first in the parade of 2012 summer/fall hunts starts Wednesday, Aug. 1, when black bear become fair game in many management units around Washington.
Like the rest of us, Northwest interior bruins toughed out a cool, wet spring and early summer and though they may not have known it a couple of months ago, for the second straight year the uphigh berry crop is going to be small and late.
However, if the amount of sign was any indication, many black bears made the trek upslope in late May and June, so how the early enforced diet change will affect them again this year is an interesting question.
BIG CAT HUNTS COME LATER
Once cougars became fair game at the same time as black bears; however, that's now not the case.
Though the basic nature of feline quarry may not have changed much in habit, hunting seasons for cougars continue to evolve as more knowledge of Washington's population is gathered.
There are a few new wrinkles for mountain lion hunts.
For more information about this year's black bear and cougar hunts plus more hunting and fishing news, read the Outdoors Column in Sunday's The Bellingham Herald.
Doug Huddle, The Bellingham Herald's outdoors correspondent, since 1983 has written a weekly fishing and hunting column that now appears Sundays. Read his blog and contact him at pblogs.bellinghamherald.com/outdoors.