Press Release Aug 26, 2020

Lawsuit Challenges Park Service's Destructive Hunting Practices on National Parklands

Lawsuit challenges rules by Interior and National Park Service that allow hunting practices like baiting brown bears and killing wolves during the denning season.  

ANCHORAGE, AK— A lawsuit filed today in federal District Court in Alaska charges the Interior Department and National Park Service (NPS) with violating multiple laws when adopting a rule that would open up national preserves in Alaska to hunting practices like baiting brown bears and killing wolves during the denning season.

“The century-old governing mission of the National Park Service includes protecting America’s ecosystems and wildlife, not turning lands into massive game farms,” said Jim Adams, Alaska regional director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Unfortunately, under the Trump administration, the Park Service is ignoring that mission in rolling back previous prohibitions and moving to allow baiting grizzly bears and trapping wolves in their dens on Alaska’s national parklands. The National Parks Conservation Association rejects these egregious sport hunting rules and is ready to fight back by taking the administration to court.”

With the new rule, NPS reverses its longstanding position that the State of Alaska may not implement sport hunting regulations on national preserves that are designed to decimate predators in order to increase the numbers of moose and caribou available for people to hunt. The agency’s new rule illegally clears the way for the state to allow activities like bear baiting and killing of wolves during denning season in all national preserves in Alaska, including those in Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias.

“This arbitrary and unjustified reversal of federal regulations undermines the very purposes established for these lands by Congress,” said Katie Strong, senior staff attorney with Trustees for Alaska. “Any rule that leads to the manipulation of predator populations rather than the preservation of wildlife diversity clearly and absolutely breaks federal law.” Today’s suit charges the agencies with violating the National Park Service’s Organic Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The State of Alaska generally manages sport hunting on federal lands, but that management discretion must stay within the bounds of federal mandates.

Law firm Trustees for Alaska filed the lawsuit on behalf of 13 clients: Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaskans FOR Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Copper Country Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Denali Citizens Council, the Humane Society of the United States, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch.

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About the National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its nearly 1.4 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.