State Predator Controls Go Too Far for National Preserves

Nov 11, 2014
Lisa Oakley

UPDATE:

We have submitted comments on behalf of our clients to the National Park Service on banning predator control on National park lands in Alaska. To read the comments, click here.

Since 2003, the State of Alaska has drastically expanded and liberalized predator control laws. Revisions made by the Board of Game include authorization of previously illegal hunting practices that now allow:

• Increased bag limits for killing wolves to 20 per day in some areas
• Extending the hunting season on predators into breeding season when their pelts have no commercial value
• Unfair hunting practices like snaring, baiting and killing cubs or sows with cubs in dens while they are hibernating

State regulations allow the killing of sows and cubs while hibernating in their dens. USFWS photo

State regulations allow the killing of sows and cubs while hibernating in their dens. USFWS photo

Generally the federal government allows the State of Alaska (and other states) to manage hunting and fishing on federal lands. But sometimes the State refuses to follow federal mandates and loses the privilege of managing wildlife. That is what happened when the State Constitution was found to conflict with the federal mandate for rural preference. The federal government took over management of subsistence hunting and fishing on federal lands. Now, with Alaska’s predator control laws impinging on federal mandates to manage for healthy wildlife populations, the National Park Service (NPS) has finally said, “Enough!” The NPS proposed new sport hunting regulations in September to stop some of the more extreme predator control efforts within National Park unit boundaries.

National park areas are managed to maintain natural ecosystems and processes, including wildlife populations and their behaviors. While sport hunting is allowed by the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act in national preserves in Alaska, NPS policies prohibit reducing native predators for the sole purpose of increasing numbers of harvested species. Manipulation of species as it is practiced under the State’s Intensive Management strategy conflicts with NPS mandates.

Bag limits on wolves are as high as 20 a day in some areas of the state. Photo (c)Amy Gulick/amygulick.com

Bag limits on wolves are as high as 20 a day in some areas of the state. Photo (c)Amy Gulick/amygulick.com

“Alaska’s national parks and preserves attract visitors from around the world for the opportunity to see animals like bears and wolves—alive,” said Jim Stratton, Deputy Vice President of Regional Operations for the National Parks Conservation Association. “Intensive management, or killing bears and wolves to increase moose and caribou populations is something the state has the authority to allow on its lands; and now we’re asking for the state to respect the National Park Service’s efforts to protect its lands, where sport hunting is allowed. Predator control and national park lands just don’t mix. At issue isn’t whether you can hunt in Alaska’s national preserves, but how you hunt. Most notably, we are pleased to see the National Park Service proposing to ban such unbearable hunting methods as spotlighting, which involves shining a light on bears in their dens in order to shoot them.”

Trustees for Alaska is reviewing the proposed regulations with our client the National Parks Conservation Association to ensure they meet all legal requirements to protect predators and limit or stop future challenges to NPS authority over its preserve lands.

The public may comment on the regulations through December 3, 2014.

Learn About the Proposed NPS Regulation and to Comment

Read more at NPCA

Donate to support Trustees for Alaska’s work to keep Alaska wild.

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