Interior Department Continues Hunting Expansion Across U.S. Public Lands
ANCHORAGE, Alaska— The Trump administration today continued efforts to repeal protections for brown bears and other wildlife on public lands in Alaska. In this latest step, the administration proposed to repeal an Obama administration rule that prohibited numerous ecologically harmful hunting methods on Alaska’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, such as gunning down brown bears at bait stations and using cruel leghold traps.
If the rules are finalized, the Center for Biological Diversity plans to take legal action to challenge the expansion of hunting on national wildlife refuges.
Earlier this week the Interior Department also finalized a rule repealing Obama-era protections for Alaska’s wildlife on national preserves managed by the National Park Service. The new rule greenlights killing of bears and wolves, including cubs and pups, at dens and killing bears over bait and with hounds. Such predator-control activities, allowed under Alaska state hunting laws, are intended to artificially inflate prey populations, such as moose and caribou, for hunters to kill.
“There’s no way to justify killing bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens,” said Collette Adkins, the Center’s carnivore conservation director. “It’s a cruel mockery for the Trump administration to propose these horrendous new rules for the very preserves and refuges meant to protect wildlife and biological diversity. We’re going to do everything we can to stop this.”
Today’s proposal is part of a broad Interior Department push to expand hunting on public lands across the country. This spring the Trump administration proposed to open or expand hunting on 97 refuges and nine fish hatcheries. The proposal covers more than 2.3 million acres within the National Wildlife Refuge System and the National Fish Hatchery System.
Ecologically important carnivores like mountain lions, bobcats and foxes would be targeted under the plan, with some refuges providing no limits on the number killed.
The public comment period on that proposal closed June 8, with the Center submitting more than 30,000 letters in opposition.
“The Trump administration’s rules favor trophy hunters and trappers at the expense of the rest of us, who appreciate the critical role bears, bobcats and other animals play in healthy ecosystems,” said Adkins.
The public has 60 days to comment on the proposed rule for Alaska’s Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.