The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife Commission’s recent vote to end springtime black bear hunting is a reprieve, a step forward for Washington’s wildlife and all Washingtonians who love our natural abundance.

Spring hunting poses a particular risk to cubs, born in winter dens. The hunt may orphan them, or starve them as mothers waste energy needed for nursing. Only seven other states allow such hunts.

Beyond the vote’s immediate effect, it signals a new direction. Commissioners gave new weight to science, hunting ethics, wildlife well-being and Washingtonians’ desire to enjoy our wild neighbors in peace. Unfortunately, this change may be fleeting.

One commission seat is vacant, having waited a year for the governor’s appointment. That absence left this crucial vote tied, with the swing vote serving past his term, until a successor is named.

Those new commissioners will face challenges like local sheriffs’ war on cougars, and the state auditor’s assessment that the agency is riven with bullying, abuse and a pervasive sense that science does not drive policy. It’s urgent that Gov. Jay Inslee fills those seats with commissioners who will guarantee a bright future for our wild places and those who love them.

Josh Rosenau, Lake Forest Park