Stop Alaska from Killing Iconic Predators on National Wildlife Refuges
On Aug. 3, 2016, the USFWS joined its sister-agency, the National Park Service, in finalizing regulations for national wildlife refuges in Alaska that will effectively overrule an Alaska state law that encouraged the unethical killing of bears, wolves and coyotes to promote game animals.
The finalized rules ban nearly all predator hunting on national wildlife refuges that is not approved by the federal government. It prohibits “several particularly effective” ways to kill predators including killing cubs or sows with cubs; brown bears over bait; bears using traps or snares; wolves or coyote from May through Aug. 9; and bears from an aircraft or the same day air travel has occurred. It states hunter demands for more animals — moose, deer or caribou — no longer justify predator control on refuge lands. Rather, any control needs to meet refuge purposes and be based on “sound science in response to a conservation concern.”
The new rule, which takes effect in early September, will protect predators like bears, wolves and coyotes, on a vast amount of land. National wildlife refuges in Alaska cover 73 million acres and include the 20 million-acre National Arctic Wildlife Refuge. The regulations exempt subsistence hunting.
The new rules “will ensure that all wildlife – including predators – gets a fair shake on Alaska’s National Wildlife Refuges, for which Congress has assigned us primary authority,” stated USFWS Director Dan Ashe. “National Wildlife Refuges are not game farms managed for a slice of their diversity for the benefit of a few people who would call themselves hunters. Nor are they places where we can or should allow the practices authorized under Alaska’s “intensive predator management” initiative.” More: http://huff.to/2b3sRi7
Alaska’s predator hunting has been a flash point in a growing battle between state and federal officials over who has authority over federal lands. The rule has drawn strong opposition from Alaska’s Board of Game and the state’s congressional delegation.
In fact, on July 14, 2016, Rep. Don Young [R-Alaska] inserted a rider into the Dept. of Interior’s 2016-2017 budget that would prohibit the USFWS from implementing its proposed Alaska rule. Thankfully, Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) strongly defended the finalized rules when they were debated on the House floor. [Video testimony > 5:07 to end].
In a press release on August 3rd, Rep. Young issued a statement strongly condemning the new regulations.
Citizens’ Action Alert:
Although the House of Representatives approved the Dept. of Interior’s 2017 with Rep. Young’s rider included, the budget has not been signed into law. Thus, we urge all our supporters to join us in reaching out to President Obama and our respective senators to voice our vehement objection to his anti-predator amendment and to encourage them to remove it before it is sent to President Obama for signature into law.