Press Release May 20, 2020

Interior Targets Alaska Park Bear Cubs and Wolf Pups with Final Hunting Plan

“Amid the global pandemic, the Trump administration is declaring open season on bears and wolves through its sport hunting rule on national parklands in Alaska" -- NPCA President and CEO Theresa Pierno 

WASHINGTON – Bears and wolves on Alaska national parklands will be targeted by egregious sport hunting practices, based on a final rule released today and signed by Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The finalized rule reverses wildlife management regulations implemented for Alaska parks in 2015 after an extensive, multi-year public engagement process.

Under the final rule, national preserve lands managed by the National Park Service will allow:

  • Use of bait (donuts, grease-soaked bread, etc.) to draw in and kill brown bears;
  • Use of artificial light to enter dens to kill black bears, including females and their cubs; and
  • Trapping and killing wolves and their pups during denning season.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association

“Amid the global pandemic, the Trump administration is declaring open season on bears and wolves, through their sport hunting rule on national parklands in Alaska. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt had the opportunity to halt this rule that includes baiting park bears but chose instead to ignore commonsense and opposition by members of Congress, scientists and tens of thousands of Americans.

“National preserve lands at Denali, Katmai, Gates of the Arctic and others are the very places where people travel from around the world, in hopes of seeing these iconic animals, alive in their natural habitat. Through this administration’s rule, such treasured lands will now allow sport hunters to lure bears with greased donut bait piles to kill them, or crawl into hibernating bear dens to shoot bears and cubs. Shooting hibernating mama and baby bears is not the conservation legacy that our national parks are meant to preserve and no way to treat or manage park wildlife.”

Additional Background:

In July 2017, former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a memo directing the Park Service to reconsider regulations finalized in 2015. The memo called on the Park Service to examine “prohibitions that directly contradict State of Alaska authorizations and wildlife management decisions…for sport hunting and commercial trapping on National Park Service lands.”

The 2015 regulations created commonsense wildlife management rules, finalized by the Park Service after years of conflict with state of Alaska policies. In Alaska, predator control hunting strategies aim at reducing bear and wolf populations to allow moose and caribou populations to increase — for greater sport hunting opportunities. Such approaches are at odds with bedrock wildlife management regulations for lands managed by the National Park Service. After more than a decade of trying to work with the State of Alaska’s Board of Game to no avail, the Park Service finalized the 2015 regulations to specifically protect bears, wolves and other wildlife on national preserves from state predator control regulations.

In 2018, Representatives Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Christopher Smith (R-NJ), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and 75 colleagues urged former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last year to withdraw the draft rule. In addition, former Alaskan Governor Tony Knowles and more than 100 of the world’s top scientists and natural resource managers also wrote to Zinke, opposing the rule and calling for scientifically based management of these predators on Alaskan national park lands.

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