Hunting bears and wolves will now be easier at national preserves in Alaska. A new federal rule overturned bans on controversial trapping and hunting practices in the state.
The National Park Service says the new federal rule goes hand in hand with Alaska state law. Hunters will be permitted to use artificial light to hunt black bears in their dens. They can also bring in dogs to hunt black bears. Additionally, hunters can now use bait to attract both black and brown bears.
The rule change permits hunting swimming caribou and shooting them from motorboats. As for wolves and coyotes, hunters can take them during their denning season.
The Obama administration banned the aforementioned practices of hunting bears and wolves in 2015. The administration claimed it would negatively impact the balance of predators and game animals in the environment.
Support for the Rule Change
Gov. Michael J. Dunleavy praised the Trump administration’s decision to lift the restrictions. “Hunting and responsible management of wildlife are an integral part of the Alaskan lifestyle and this will further align hunting regulations on the federal level with those established by the State of Alaska for the benefit of Alaskans,” he said in the National Park Service statement.
In a statement released in May, Victor Joseph, chief and chairman of the Tanana Chiefs Conference (TCC), spoke on the rule change. “The previous rule was implemented without adequate tribal consultation, in disregard to rural Alaska’s dependence on wild food resources,” he said.
Moreover, Joseph continued by voicing the TCC’s support for the changes. “The previous limitations enacted in 2015, threatened our way of life and our centuries-long sustainable management practices,” he said. “Tanana Chiefs Conference supports these revisions.”
Criticisms of the Rule Change
In contrast to the TCC and other groups, a number of conservationist organizations oppose the rule. Staff attorney for the Humane Society of the United States, Laura Smythe spoke with CNN in regard to the issue. “We believe that these rules are cruel and irresponsible,” she said. “These practices are used as predator control methods, which means they’re used to suppress predatory species to artificially elevate the population of game species.”
Theresa Pierno, president and CEO of the National Parks Conservation Association, addressed the new regulation in a statement last month. “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,” Pierno said.