Anchorage, Alaska — Thursday the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) published a proposed rule to clarify that predator control is not allowed on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, unless necessary to meet refuge purposes, federal laws or Service policy, and is consistent with the agency’s conservation mission. The rule was developed in response to public interest and concern about predator control and recent liberalization of predator harvest within the State of Alaska.
The proposed rule would also prohibit certain methods and means for non-subsistence harvest of predators, as well as update procedures for closing an area or restricting an activity on refuges in Alaska.
Consistent with existing law and agency policy, sport and subsistence hunting remain priority public uses on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. Under the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, all refuges in Alaska are mandated to provide the opportunity for continued subsistence use by rural Alaska residents in a manner consistent with the conservation of natural diversity. The proposed rule will not change federal subsistence regulations or restrict taking of fish or wildlife under them. The Service will continue to strongly support sustainable harvest of fish and wildlife, including predators.
“Alaska’s national wildlife refuges contain some of the most spectacular wildlife and natural habitats in the nation, and we have a responsibility to future generations to ensure that this unique biodiversity thrives,” said the Service’s Alaska Regional Director Geoff Haskett. “This proposed rule carefully balances that responsibility with the importance of providing for the subsistence needs of rural Alaskans and sustainable hunting opportunities to residents and visitors alike.”[xyz-ihs snippet=”adsense-body-ad”]
Prior to publishing this proposed rule, feedback was sought from the Federal Subsistence Regional Advisory Councils, tribal governments and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act Corporations, and the State of Alaska. In response, the scope and complexity of the proposal has been narrowed and significant changes have been made.
The Service is publishing a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) that evaluates the proposed rule and considers the potential environmental effects on Alaska refuge resources. Feedback from interested stakeholders and the public at large on the EA is encouraged.
The proposed rule and draft EA will publish in the Federal Register on January 8, 2016. Written comments and information concerning this proposal and draft EA can be submitted by one of the following methods:
- Federal eRulemaking Portal: https://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments to Docket No. [FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005]; or
- U. S. mail or hand-delivery: Public Comments Processing, Attn: [FWS-R7-NWRS-2014-0005]; Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs; U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC; 5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803.
Comments must be received within 60 days, on or before March 7, 2016. The Service will post all comments on https://www.regulations.gov. This generally means the agency will post any personal information provided through the process. The Service is not able to accept email or faxes.
Additional information on the proposed rule and draft EA can be found at: https://www.fws.gov/alaska/nwr/ak_nwr_pr.htm
For more information about national wildlife refuges in Alaska, please visit https://www.fws.gov/alaska/nwr/nwr.htm.
Source: USFWS [xyz-ihs snippet=”Adversal-468×60″]