Court Of Appeals Upholds Restrictions On Kenai NWR Brown Bear Baiting

Here’s more from Alaska Public Media:

The decision is the latest in a legal battle dating back to 2016, when then-President Barack Obama imposed a set of regulations for the federally managed Kenai National Wildlife Refuge. The so-called “Kenai Rule” placed restrictions on hunting and trapping in the 2-million-acre refuge, including limits to brown-bear baiting and hunting in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area.

Soon after the rule passed, hunting advocacy group Safari Club International and the state of Alaska sued the federal government, arguing they overstepped their authority. They said the rule that first established the refuge, the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, gives the state the ultimate authority to regulate hunting on its federal lands.

A district court judge disagreed and ruled in favor of the federal government and the original Kenai Rule in 2020. Soon after, Safari Club and the state appealed.

Today, a judge with the Ninth Circuit court — the federal court of appeals for Alaska and several other states — upheld that original decision. Judge Ronald Gould agreed that the federal government has power over Alaska’s public lands, even if ANILCA gives the state responsibility for its wildlife. And when state and federal regulations compete, the judge said, the federal regulations prevail.