A lawsuit filed yesterday in Federal District Court in Alaska charges the United States Interior Department and National Park Service (NPS) with violating multiple laws when adopting a rule that would open up national preserves in Alaska to hunting practices like baiting bears and killing wolves during the denning season.
“Allowing bear cubs to be killed with their mothers and wolf pups to be targeted in their dens is unjustifiably cruel,” said Andrea Feniger, Director of Sierra Club’s Alaska Chapter. “It is also detrimentally short-sighted. The science is clear that we are in the midst of a climate and extinction crisis. There’s an urgent need to manage these lands to protect wildlife.”
With the new rule, NPS reverses its longstanding position that Alaska may not implement sport hunting regulations on national preserves that are designed to decimate predators in order to increase the numbers of moose and caribou so that people can sadly continue to hunt them.
“It is outrageous to target ecologically important animals like wolves and bears so that hunters might have more moose and caribou to kill,” Collette Adkins, Carnivore Conservation Director for the Center for Biological Diversity, said in a statement. “Not only are destructive predator control practices harmful and unsporting, they’re illegal when done on federal public lands set aside to protect biodiversity.”
Unfathomably, the agency’s new rule illegally clears the way for the state to allow activities like bear baiting and killing of wolves during denning season in all national preserves in Alaska.
The lawsuit charges the agencies with violating the National Park Service’s Organic Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act. The State of Alaska generally manages so-called “sport hunting” on federal lands, but that management discretion must stay within the bounds of federal mandates.
“Techniques such as killing bear sows with cubs at den sites or “harvesting” brown bears over bait are clearly inappropriate within units of the National Park System,” said Phil Francis, Chair of the Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks. “The National Park Service is mandated to conserve wildlife, not exploit it through these objectionable hunting practices.”
Law firm Trustees for Alaska filed the lawsuit on behalf of 13 clients: Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaskans FOR Wildlife, Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Copper Country Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Denali Citizens Council, the Humane Society of the United States, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club, and Wilderness Watch.
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