Trump administration making it easier to hunt bear cubs, wolf pups in Alaska
A proposal by the U.S. National Parks Service published online this week outlines an ease of regulations surrounding the hunting of animals such as bears, wolves and coyotes in Alaska.
The move is a reversal of an Obama-era law from 2015, which prohibited some sports hunting practices in Alaska’s national preserves.
Alaska has 10 national preserves covering nearly 95,830 square kilometres.
The 2015 rules outlawed several hunting tactics for black bears, including cubs — using dogs, artificial light, or bait were all made illegal.
The rules also prohibited luring in brown bears with bait.
Hunting wolves or coyotes (including pups) during denning season, between May and August, was ruled out as well. It was also made illegal to use motor boats to shoot swimming caribou.
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The current administration is seeking to overturn those changes, with members of the public getting 60 days to comment on the proposal.
Expanding hunting rights on federal lands has been a major priority for U.S. President Donald Trump’s Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, a former Montana congressman who displays big-game trophies in his office at the department’s Washington headquarters.
The changes would bring federal law in line with the state’s rules, said Bert Frost, the park service’s regional director.
“This proposed rule will reconsider NPS efforts in Alaska for improved alignment of hunting regulations on national preserves with State of Alaska regulations, and to enhance consistency with harvest regulations on surrounding non-federal lands and waters.”
The latest proposed changes come about one year after Trump signed a bill that opened up hunting in Alaska’s national wildlife refuges to include tactics such as shooting animals from airplanes.
The proposed changes have prompted outrage from animal rights advocates.
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Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist with the advocacy group Center for Biological Diversity, expressed anger at the rollback.
“Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves,” she said.
The Humane Society of the United States said it would oppose the new rules.
“These federal lands are havens for wildlife and the National Park Service is mandated to manage these ecosystems in a manner that promotes conservation,” said Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the animal rights group. “This proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized.”
The Trump administration has come under fire for lifting hunting bans in the past. In March, the administration quietly decided once again to allow Americans to import the body parts of African elephants shot for sport.
The same month, the president convened a wildlife conservation board, which consisted of several trophy hunters.
Trump’s sons are also avid trophy hunters who have made past excursions to Africa and Alaska.
— With files from The Associated Press
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