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Park Service Lifts Sport-Hunting Restrictions in Alaska

 

Thanks to the latest regulatory rollback of the Trump administration, Alaskan hunters can use donuts to bait bears from their dens once again, and they can kill wolf and coyote pups during denning season.

Published in the Federal Register on June 3 and set to take effect in 30 days, the rule from the National Park Service removes prohibitions enacted during the Obama administration against certain hunting and trapping practices that Alaska state law otherwise permits in 2015.

Alaska had sued the Interior Department over the rules three years ago, saying they interfered with residents’ way of life and ability to feed their families. “Removing this provision will expand harvest opportunities, complement regulations on lands and waters within and surrounding national preserves, and defer to the State in regard to fish and wildlife management,” the 35-page rule states.

Among other practices, the Obama rule prohibited hunters from using flashlights to see inside brown and black bear dens; tracking bears with dogs; or luring the animals out into the open with piles of bait.

The rule also prevented hunters and trappers from using motorboats to shoot swimming caribou, and from taking wolves and coyotes or their pups between May and August when the animals are getting ready to give birth, a period known as denning season.

Environmentalists have been quick to dispute Alaska’s claim about putting food on the table. Congressman Don Young and Governor Michael Dunleavy are among the officials claiming otherwise.

The rule change has been in progress since 2018 when then-Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke issued a memo that said states should control fish and wildlife management on federal lands.

The National Park Service said Tuesday it “reconsidered its prior position” because the “2015 rule conflicts with federal and state laws which allow for hunting and trapping in national preserves.”

With the change, Alaska now assumes full authority of wildlife management on national preserves. The state is home to eight national parks, the second highest of any state after California, which has nine.

Lavin at Defenders of Wildlife said his organization is planning on holding the National Park Service accountable to its wildlife-management duties.

Trump’s revisions abandon the primary purpose of national preserved lands, which is to conserve wildlife and wild places, “and that includes preserving natural predator prey interactions and otherwise managing wildlife in its natural diversity,” Lavin added.