The state of Alaska has a mandate to sustainably manage wildlife species for the benefit of hunters, which means they sometimes manage — even kill — certain species, like bears and wolves, to increase the numbers of others, like caribou.
But the National Parks Service — which oversees about 48 million acres of national parks and preserve land in Alaska — does not prioritize some animals over others. The different approaches of the two groups may come to a head in U.S. District Court case Alaska v. Zinke, Wildlife Wednesdays speaker Jim Adams explained at a lecture at the University of Alaska Southeast in front of a crowd of 75.
Adams is the director for the Alaska region of the National Parks and Conservancy Association. The National Park Service has a “dual mandate,” he said, which puts it in contrast with the state: They’re required to manage their lands for the benefit of users as well as future generations.
That means the NPS lets nature take its course. If an increase in bears leads to less deer, that’s not something the NPS will intervene with. Not so with the state of Alaska.
“The service does not engage in activities to reduce the number of native species to reduce the numbers of harvested species, nor does the service permit others to do so on lands managed by the National Park Service,” Adams said. “The state has a different management philosophy around wildlife.”
That difference manifests itself in how the state of Alaska, through Fish and Game, regulates bear hunting: they allow it. It’s not allowed on National Parks land.
State- and federal-run agencies have disagreed about several regulations in the past, so this is not anything shocking. But bear hunting has become a very controversial subject in North America, particularly given that neighboring – at least in Southeast Alaska – British Columbia recently announced that it’s banning grizzly bear hunting.