Interior department reviews ban on killing bear cubs and wolf pups
WASHINGTON» The Trump administration has ordered a review of federal rules that prevent hunters from killing bears and wolves using techniques many people consider extreme: baiting the animals with greasy doughnuts, ambushing mothers with pups in dens and shooting them from boats while the bears are swimming.
An Interior Department official sent memos to the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service last week requesting that they reassess rules on “various prohibitions that directly contradict State of Alaska authorizations and wildlife management decisions.” Alaska severely manages predators to increase moose and caribou populations for the benefit of hunters. Bears, wolves and coyotes prey on those animals for food.
“I anticipate that you will focus this reconsideration on certain aspects of the rule that I believe are particularly worthy of additional review,” acting assistant secretary Aurelia Skipwith wrote in the memos. Skipwith told the acting directors of both agencies to work with Alaskans to make a new final rule for the national parks there and for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
The action is separate from a March vote along party lines in Congress to rescind the Obama administration’s order late last year, which outlawed the prioritizing of prey over predators at 16 federal wildlife refuges in Alaska. Under the 1994 Congressional Review Act, Congress has 60 days to overturn a presidential order. But rules prohibiting wildlife management that specifically targets predators had been adopted by the National Park Service in Alaska and the Kenai refuge years ago.
For decades, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service negotiated annually on hunting and fishing rules on the tens of millions of acres that comprise wildlife refuges and national parks.