The Sportsmen’s Alliance, a nonprofit organization that prides itself on defending the rights of hunters and anglers. issued a press release this week concerning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s proposal that would restrict predator hunting – bears and wolves – on Alaska’s 16 national wildlife refuges.
Here’s The Guardian with more on the USFWS plan:
The new rules would effectively ban “non-subsistence” slaughter of predators within the refuges without a sound scientific reason. Practices to be outlawed include the killing of bear cubs or their mothers, the controversial practice of bear baiting and the targeting of wolves and coyotes during the spring and summer denning season.
Anyone hoping to take a plane or helicopter to shoot a bear will also be unable to do so. These changes have been backed by a group of 31 leading scientists who said the current hunting laws hurt some of the “most iconic yet persecuted species in North America: grizzly bears, black bears and wolves”.
In a letter sent for the USFWS’s public comment process, the biologists and ecologists from across the US point out that research shows that killing the predators of moose and caribou does very little to boost their numbers.
“Alaska’s many-decades program of statewide carnivore persecution has failed to yield more ungulates for human hunters,” the letter states. “Furthermore, the methods of predator persecution are seen as problematic by a clear majority of Alaska’s citizens.”\
And here is a portion of the Sportsmen’s Alliance rebuttal:
On April 7, the Sportsmen’s Alliance submitted comments opposing proposed rule changes concerning U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service management of game, in particular predator management and hunting, on National Wildlife Refuges and other public lands in Alaska. The proposed rule would effectively give USFWS primary control of nearly 77 million acres of public land and would grant the agency a massive expansion of power to indefinitely close the areas to hunting.
“We’re talking about an area larger than 45 of our 50 states,” said Evan Heusinkveld, president and CEO of Sportsmen’s Alliance. “There’s no justification for these new regulations and restrictions. This is just another example of this administration’s desire to circumvent congress and manage by executive whim – this is nothing more than a blatant power grab by the feds.”
Heusinkveld added that local control is a far sounder practice: state fish and wildlife officials know their states’ particular needs, terrain and climate far better than bureaucrats in Washington. “A one-size-fits-all approach is simply bad policy,” he said.
The proposed changes fly in the face of congressional intent, as well as the precedential and statutory right of states to manage native wildlife on federal lands within their borders. More than any other state, Alaska has firmly spelled out in state and federal law that hunting plays a strong and important role in the state’s heritage and that the state should control season dates, methods of take and bag limits, excepting migratory species and those protected by threatened and endangered status in within the state.
These principles, followed for decades, are enshrined in the Alaska state constitution, in state law and regulation, and in several federal statutes – yet the administration is proposing regulations that turn these sound principles on their head.
You can read more about the USFWS proposal here.