A Washington state appeals court has upheld voter-approved bans on most animal trapping, bearbaiting and using dogs to hunt bears and cougars. Thirteen groups, primarily hunting...

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A Washington state appeals court has upheld voter-approved bans on most animal trapping, bearbaiting and using dogs to hunt bears and cougars.

Thirteen groups, primarily hunting and fishing organizations, sought to overturn the bans, passed by voters in 1996 and 2000.

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They argued that the bans violated the state’s public-trust doctrine by ceding control of wildlife management to the ballot box.

“Wildlife should be managed for the common good, by science and not politics,” Ed Owens, chairman of the lead group, Citizens for Responsible Wildlife Management, said yesterday.

A three-judge panel of the state Court of Appeals in Tacoma rejected the ban opponents’ argument in a decision released Tuesday, saying there was no evidence the state had relinquished control over a public resource. If anything the state is exhibiting greater control in passing the bans, they said.

The ruling upheld the decision of a Thurston County Superior Court judge.

At issue were two initiatives. The first was I-655, which largely banned bearbaiting and hunting bears, cougars, bobcats and lynx with dogs. The Legislature later amended that to allow some dog-aided hunting to protect public safety.

The other was I-713, which banned the use of two poisons and most body-gripping traps.

Among other reasons, I-713 was controversial because it forbid the trapping of moles and gophers that tear up lawns and golf courses.