The state of Alaska filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior in January 2017 in an attempt to dismantle recently finalized hunting regulations on lands managed by the National Park Service.
Sport hunting rules for national preserves in Alaska are set by the Board of Game, which has pushed forward aggressive hunting methods and longer season lengths that target bears and wolves as a “predator control” strategy to increase moose and caribou populations, which can then be harvested by sport hunters.
In October 2015, the National Park Service finalized regulations which prohibit such egregious tactics and go a long way toward rectifying this conflict.
While sport hunting is allowed in national preserves, this #UnBearable manipulation of wildlife populations is expressly prohibited by National Park Service management policies.
Why is this important?
Over the past 20 years, the Alaska Board of Game has waged an ever-amplifying war on bears, wolves and coyotes within lands managed by the National Park Service.
The Alaska Board of Game manages wildlife on all lands within the state, including areas managed by the National Park Service. Recognizing the importance of sport hunting on public lands, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act of 1980 (ANLICA) included language that allows for sport hunting on more than 20 million acres of national preserve lands in Alaska as part of the National Park System.
For many years, the Alaska Board of Game adopted conflict-free sport hunting practices that were acceptable to the National Park Service. But in 1994, the Alaska Legislature instituted a “predator control” strategy that aims to encourage more moose and caribou by killing more bears and wolves.
The National Park Service can only adopt sport hunting regulations for national preserves that do not conflict with national park purposes and policies, as set forth by Congress. The state’s “predator control” approach presents a clear conflict.
Between 2001 and 2014, NPCA documented over 60 instances where the Alaska Board of Game ignored Park Service requests to keep “predator control” out of our national preserves. In October 2015, the Park Service adopted a bold set of regulation changes that end the types of state sport hunting practices that conflict with Park Service policies.
The final Park Service regulations for national preserves, where sport hunting is allowed, include many prohibitions long desired by NPCA:
- No use of bait (donuts, grease-soaked bread, etc.) to hunt bears.
- No use of artificial light to spotlight dens to kill black bears.
- No killing of bear cubs or sows with cubs.
- No killing of wolves or coyotes (including pups) during the denning season.
- No use of dogs to hunt big game.
- No hunting of big game that is swimming.
- No killing of any wildlife to reduce the numbers of native species for the purpose of increasing the numbers of harvested species (i.e., predator control).
Nearly 31,000 Took Action to Protect Alaska's Wolves and Bears
National park advocates sent letters to the National Park Service asking it to adopt permanent hunting regulations in Alaska to protect wildlife.
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