We sued the Interior Department and National Park Service today for illegally adopting a rule that would open up national preserves in Alaska to destructive hunting practices like killing brown bears over bait and killing wolves during the denning season.
NPS released the rule in June, reversing its longstanding position that the State of Alaska may not implement sport hunting regulations on national preserves meant to decimate predators in an attempt to increase the numbers of moose and caribou available for people to hunt.
“Any rule that leads to the manipulation of predator populations rather than the preservation of wildlife diversity clearly and absolutely breaks federal law,” said Katie Strong, senior staff attorney with Trustees for Alaska. “NPS has disavowed its obligations to the law and the public, and undermined the purposes established for national preserves by Congress.”
Doughnuts and grease
NPS’ new rule clears the way for hunting practices like using doughnuts and grease to bait brown bears and then shoot them, or killing wolves and coyotes, along with pups, during the denning season in national preserves throughout Alaska, including Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias.
The agency action gives the State the green light to authorize what is now illegal in national preserves in Alaska—like the well-publicized 2018 killing of hibernating bears with cubs by two poachers in Alaska.
Our lawsuit asserts NPS’ legal obligation to protect wildlife diversity on national preserves, and calls out its unjustified, destructive and illegal decision abdicating its responsibility to the health of wildlife on public lands.
An August 2020 poll shows that most Alaskans oppose the hunting practices that this NPS rule allows. Science and the law agree. We’ll see NPS in court.
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.