The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are easing hunting rules on some of Alaska’s national preserves and at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. Conservation groups have criticized the new rules as cruel and extreme. Many Alaskan leaders, hunters and tribal members enthusiastically support the changes. This move rolls back hunting and trapping prohibitions in national preserves adopted in 2015 under the Obama administration.
The new rules will let hunters use artificial lights to lure black bears, including cubs and mothers, out of their dens. Hunters will also be able to kill wolves and coyotes, both adults and pups, during denning season. These rules will make swimming caribou fair game, and allow them to be hunted from motorboats.
“These harvest practices would be allowed in national preserves where authorized by the state of Alaska,” Peter Christian, a spokesperson for the National Park Service, told the Anchorage Daily News. The National Park Service manages ten preserves in the state, including one just west of Denali. The new laws won’t affect Alaska’s national parks.
The Tanana Chiefs Conference, a group that represents 42 tribes, supports this change. Victor Joseph, the group’s chair, said in a statement that the Obama-era rule was adopted without “adequate tribal consultation,” adding that “previous limitations enacted in 2015 threatened our way of life and our centuries-long sustainable management practices.”
Defenders of Wildlife released a statement alleging that the Trump administration wants to boost game populations for hunters by killing off predators; they claim that these rolled back regulations are part of that plan. “The Trump administration has shockingly reached a new low in its treatment of wildlife,” said Jamie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife. “Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane.”
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