The National Park Service, which is mandated to protect wildlife, has capitulated to the Trump Administration’s efforts to expand hunting in every way possible. This time the target is Alaska’s wildlife, which is already imperiled by a provision tucked into the tax bill that will now allow drilling in the Arctic Refuge.
A proposed rule by NPS in Alaska that will expand hunting in a state that already has the highest firearm death rates in the nation would void protections for bears and cubs, wolves and pups, and caribou, allowing grotesque hunting practices that include shooting caribou from boats while they swim, targeting animals from airplanes, baiting bears, shooting both cubs and pups in their dens alongside their mothers and using dogs to hunt.
“The decision to resend these rules is just further proof that this administration is completely out-of-touch with the morals of a vast majority of the American people,’’ said Michael Harris, director of FoA’s Wildlife Law Program. “Instead, this is a judgment against life made by a few men with depraved hearts. The American people need to speak-out loudly and clearly against the wanton taking of life, whether human or animal.”
The abhorrent hunting practices, which were banned under a 2015 Obama-era provision, will now be allowed on national reserves in the state.
Just 14 percent of the population participated in hunting activities in Alaska, according to U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s state-by-state figures published in its National Survey of Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife-Associated Recreation. And hunting does not come without risk to humans.
There have been 14 hunting related firearm injuries in the state since 2012, and four deaths and a total of 37 have died in a variety of hunting related activities. While the new proposal would again allow hunters to shoot animals out of the sky, 20 hunters have already died in flight and vehicle crashes. Others have died in avalanches, drownings and falls.
Yet the changes allow more of this dangerous activity on federal lands simply to cater to a small minority of sport hunters at the expense of wildlife.
NPS’s 2015 restriction noted the necessity of the hunting prohibitions to protect biological diversity.
Tell NPS not to allow this rule change. Send comments to the Federal Register here. Comments are due by July 23, 2018.