President Trump signed a joint House and Senate resolution that repeals Obama-era regulations banning cruel hunting practices in Alaska. The restrictions were enacted last year to settle disputes between the federal government and the state of Alaska and to outlaw inhumane hunting practices such as bear baiting, hunting animals from aircraft, killing hibernating bears, and “denning” (killing wolf and coyote pups and other animal offspring in their dens).
The recently signed resolution, H.J. Res. 69, will allow these hunting practices, coldly dubbed “predator control,” on or near federal land in Alaska, including nearly 80 million acres of federally protected nature reserves.
The repealed restrictions were enacted in 2016 by the Fish and Wildlife Service after years of disputes between the U.S. government and the state of Alaska over the legality of such practices as bear baiting, hunting via aircraft, killing hibernating bears, and “denning” (killing wolves, coyotes, and offspring in their dens) on or near federally protected lands.
The Humane Society released a statement, saying:
“What the House did today should shock the conscience of every animal lover in America,” said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States. “If the Senate and President concur, we’ll see wolf families killed in their dens, bears chased down by planes or suffering for hours in barbaric steel-jawed traps or snares.”
These are federally managed lands, and with today’s vote, the House undid a rule years in the works that was launched by professional wildlife scientists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The practices in question are disallowed in almost every state, yet the House is seeking to revive their use in national wildlife refuges – the one category of federal lands specifically created to protect wildlife and promote the diversity of species.
The measure passed the House thanks mostly to Republicans, who voted yes with a margin of 225 to 193. The full roll call can be viewed here.
The National Rifle Associated welcomed the result, saying that “preserving the right of Alaska to manage its wildlife is a victory for outdoorsmen in all 50 states.”
However, Alaska’s Denali National Park released data showing wolf populations declined substantially up until Obama’s law was instituted.