Congressional effort to allow killing hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens moves to U.S. Senate

By on February 22, 2017 with 72 Comments

Last week’s vote on H.J. Res. 69 was one of the most disturbing actions by Congress I’ve witnessed during more than a quarter century of political advocacy for animals. By a 225 to 195 vote, a narrow majority of the U.S. House voted to rescind a rule from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) to forbid the worst wildlife management practices introduced to the field in the last century – shooting hibernating bears with their cubs and denning of wolves and their pups; using airplanes to scout, land, and shoot grizzly bears; and baiting and trapping black and grizzly bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and neck wire snares.

Both obedience to and fear of the NRA and Safari Club International, along with an interest in securing campaign donations from those groups and their supporters, drove more than 200 lawmakers to vote against good sense and common decency.

Rep. Don Young of Alaska, a former board member of the NRA and a licensed trapper – who conceded on the floor that he used to kill wolf pups in their dens for a bounty paid by the federal government — initiated this action and led the charge for his terrible resolution. An identical resolution, introduced by Sen. Dan Sullivan of Alaska as S.J. Res. 18, may be taken up in the Senate next week or soon thereafter.

Let’s take a look at several of Young’s arguments brandished in the run-up to this vote.

Young and other proponents simultaneously argued that the federal rule would restrict hunting and even fishing rights, yet they also said that the practices forbidden under the rule don’t occur.

It’s almost a logical impossibility to severely restrict hunting and fishing rights for practices that aren’t occurring. So what’s really at work here, and where do the truth and these politicians lie? The state of Alaska, especially since the enactment of the Intensive Management Act, has been on a crusade to use well-heeled trophy hunters and state agents to drive down the numbers of grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves, in order to create more moose and caribou for hunters to shoot. In pursuit of this goal, it’s authorized all manner of appalling practices, including hunting and killing methods forbidden by the FWS rule on their lands. In short, if these methods weren’t legal and used, then the state, the Safari Club, and the NRA wouldn’t be clamoring for a rescinding of the measure.

Young and his allies invoked the 10th Amendment and called the battle a states’ rights issue, saying the federal government has no business managing wildlife on federal lands.

This is their most dangerous argument, since this is an attempt to supplant wildlife management by the National Park Service (NPS) and the FWS on over 170 million acres of land throughout the United States – from the refuges and national parks and preserves in Alaska to Yellowstone and Acadia and Everglades in the rest of the United States. While the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management have traditionally deferred to the states on wildlife management, the FWS and the NPS have for decades directly controlled the management of wildlife on land dedicated to species preservation. That power is derived from the Constitution and Congress, and the federal courts have repeatedly upheld that right. The FWS rule is aligned with the Alaska National Interests Land Conservation Act (which Young opposed in 1980) and the National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act, along with the Property Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The sweeping application of Congressman Young’s invocation of the 10th Amendment would upend management practices at hundreds of parks, preserves, seashores, battlefields, refuges, and other designated land holdings. This has been a long-held aspiration of the NRA and Safari Club, and lawmakers aligned with them took the ball and ran with it. If this principle had merit, then it would just be a matter of time for the state of Wyoming to open hunting seasons on grizzly bears and wolves within the boundaries of Yellowstone National Park, if state managers chose that strategy.

Young said that everybody in Alaska is in favor of his effort to repeal the federal rule.

Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia argued against H.J. Res. 69 and read excerpts from a series of letters from Alaskans opposing the rule. On top of that, there were letters from more than a dozen wildlife biologists from Alaska saying that the FWS rule is the right policy, and that the rule itself was crafted by FWS biologists who work and live in Alaska and felt duty-bound to proscribe activities at odds with the purposes of the refuges. None of these people are cranks, and it turns out, they are not in the minority. A statewide poll conducted in February 2016 showed Alaskans oppose denning of wolves by more than a 2-to-1 margin. At a series of public meetings on the FWS proposed rule, many Alaskans turned out to publicly support the rulemaking actions because they want these inhumane, unsustainable, and unsporting practices to end. At the Fairbanks meeting, a clear majority supported the proposed rule. Alaskan voters have put the issue of aerial gunning of wolves on the ballot three times, and passed two of the measures (still lawmakers, violating the wishes of their own constituents, overturned those laws).

The FWS rule, years in the works, was hardly an example of the federal government running roughshod over the state. The opposite is far closer to the truth, with the state trying to bully its way into our national wildlife refuges and national preserves, authorized by Congress. Congress provided the FWS with a statutory mandate requiring the agency to conserve wildlife species, and prohibiting the denning of wolf pups and land-and-scout hunting of grizzly bears falls in line with that mandate. Yet, consistent with its policy, the FWS appealed to the Alaska Board of Game dozens of times to amend its rules to exempt National Wildlife Refuges. The Board of Game refused.

The House outcome is intolerable, and now the debate moves to the U.S. Senate. Only determined action by citizens can stop the Senate from replicating the House action. Call your U.S. Senators and urge them to oppose S.J. Res. 18, by Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan of Alaska. It’s not just the lives of the wolves and bears at stake, it’s nothing less than the principle of federal control of our parks and refuges throughout the United States.

Ask your U.S. Senator to oppose S. J. Res. 18 »

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Public Policy (Legal/Legislative), Wildlife/Marine Mammals

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72 Comments

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  1. Samuel says:

    All animals deserve to live in peace and killing cubs and pups would be the same as killing babies

    • Diane Dillman says:

      Contact your senators and any others that may be looking for the good of the COUNTRY! not just their constituents. I suggest McCain and Graham to start. This is a reflection of the United States. What hypocrites we are to tell others to tolerate elephants that destroy crops, rhinos, and many other less flamboyant but endangered species…and we kill wolf pups and bear cubs in dens so some high roller can get a bigger trophy elk. The big trophy elk are big because wolves take the weak! This is insane. and barbaric. and it breaks my heart. Already contacted my senators who I can count on. I will tell others I may be from the Peoples Republic of Massachusetts as Graham likes to joke….and I have hunted and I love to fish…but this is just mean and madness.

    • Dr. Georgie, MS,ND says:

      Get the word out and share on your facebook page or twitters etc. Like the way people have mobilized against obamacare etc……….like Wayne said it MORE THAN WOLVES AND BEARS…….it about FEDERAL control of OUR PARKS AND REFUGE ALL OVER THE USA. And of course the NRA and Sarfari club
      would want to get the right to Kill in our national park and refuge,,,,,since the
      wildlife been “conserved” so there alot for TROPHY FOR THEM TO KILL.

      The wildlife are ALL THE CITIZENS OF THE UNITED STATES,not for the HUNTERS .
      share!!! and everyone to get everyone else they know to call their senators.
      Getting really SICK OF THESE REPUBLICANS………Not surprising what they want to do with bears and wolves , since what have you been seeing with us humans on health care, immigration, etc.,

      • sharon Todorovic says:

        So what is the purpose of killing animals when their hibernating? And who came up with this in-humane idea? What is wrong with people!!!! We are becoming a nation of lunatics!!! And I don’t care if your dem or rep. this is just so WRONG!!!!!!! STOP THE KILLING BEFORE IT STARTS!!!

    • Comtessa says:

      All this because of the highly subsidized Big Ranching Business. We need to make all of our selected officials accountable and quit eating meat

      • Patrick Gerber says:

        I am not for killing bear and wolf cubs in their dens but don’t start your crazy liberal BS like we should stop eating meat. Animal populations need to be controlled and if nature is unable to do so than humans have to step in and do it. Farm land and farm stock are constently at risk from over populated species. We just have to manage it properly And for the right reasons.

  2. Mary Talmadge says:

    Stop killing our heritage

  3. Patricia Giordano says:

    We’re going backwards instead of forwards the practice of killing bears and their cubs and wolves and their cubs in their dens if barbaric ………

  4. Alice Dawson says:

    Evil is as EVIL does!

  5. Alice Dawson says:

    EVIL is as EVIL does!! SWLHP!! Praying for this world!!

  6. Patricia Peters says:

    We shall remember this when it’s reelection time.
    Signed,
    The American people

  7. diana horner says:

    I am disturbed and completely against H.J. Res. 69. This is a terrible blow to wildlife and preservation. Please help to overturn this disastrous bill.

  8. Lori Stewmon says:

    What is wrong with you people?! In hunting, the animals should have a fair chance. I can’t wait for the day that these animals come to your house while you are sleeping and eat you.

  9. Barbara Burton says:

    How can you even consider the horrible actions that are being purposed? Listen to scientists and environmentalist before making rash decisions. You are killing the economy sytem for generations to come. STOP THESE ACTIONS NOW!!!!!!!!!!

  10. Gary Beeler says:

    Please oppose S.J. Res. 18. Don’t allow the most cruel ways of killing denning bears with cubs or wolves with pups. Predators are nature’s way of keeping nature in balance, and shouldn’t be destroyed just so states can sell more hunting licenses to guides and hunters.

    • ShelliRK says:

      Human beings are the most conniving, gutless, heartless predators on earth. killing for the sake of trophies and blood and dollar. The most vile of all predators.

    • Comtessa says:

      I never say please to our officials who are on our payroll. I tell them, as one of your constituents and employers, I strongly urge you…

  11. Don hughes says:

    Prove moral competence, oppose SJ 69.

  12. Mollie Cook says:

    HORRIBLE, JUST HORRIBLE…THIS IS INSANE. QUIT MURDERING OUR WILDLIFE U.S. GOVERNMENT! WE, THE PEOPLE, DON’T WANT THIS HAPPENING.

  13. Daniela Kohl says:

    As an animal welfare and environment protector, I am urging you to VOTE NO on Joint Resolution 18.
    My family and I spend a lot of time in Colorado and Alaska, where we have a home. We always enjoy the outdoors
    and shooting wildlife with a camera, not a weapon.
    Ecological research shows us that “predator control” is not an effective way to manage wildlife.
    Rather, it disrupts the ecosystem and results in unnaturally high herbivore populations that can damage trees, wild plants, and agriculture.
    Stop justifying it as if it’s good for the ecosystem, it’s just a contrived loophole for people to hunt without restriction, and clearly, without understanding
    the long-term consequences of their actions.
    Sincerely,
    Daniela Kohl

  14. Katrina Lewers says:

    This is heartbreaking and shocking. Please keep us informed as to how to stop this bill from becoming a reality. Will call my own senators today.

  15. Valerie Weihl says:

    This is ONLY acceptable If your intention is to exterminate these animals.

  16. Traci says:

    Stop or all of our animals will be extinct . Especially not babies in their homes .

  17. Vicki spleas says:

    With hundreds against the murder of baby wolves and bears the voters will remember at voting time no more republicans

  18. Jay Yoon says:

    Do not kill those endangered wildlife, they’re one of great lifes

  19. Adriana says:

    Please stop…..help innocent animals

  20. David Lambert says:

    I hunt occasionally, and I’m appalled by this systematic effort to reduce the number of wolves and bears by extermination of cubs and pups while in their dens. Almost all states forbid hunting sow bears where cubs are present. To deny this protection for wolves and their pups is unconscionable. Where is the justification to destroy a national resource for greed? Why no effort to relocate rather than destroy? The politicians who approved this have only personal enrichment at the expense of the public’s right to enjoy a national resource. This is one more reason to join the fight for term limits in the Congress and Senate. I hunt, fish and am a life member of the NRA and I don’t believe money trumps morality.

  21. Carrie Kashan says:

    It’s out and out cruel murdering of mothers and children in their beds.
    For trophy hunting. We murder nature once, only to murder nature again.
    It’s scary what humans need for their egos, murder.

  22. Sahila Chaudhry says:

    Stop this cruelty. Animals should be loved and not killed. They are not harming anyone especially during hibernation.
    What if a government passes a rule to kill you and your kids while you are slept. Would you even support that ??
    Spread love and not killings.

  23. Megan says:

    When will the Senate vote on it?

  24. Susan says:

    Terrible and indecent actions. Should not alllow.

  25. Kathy says:

    Terrible
    Inhumane. …killing babies and sleeping animals…Sick…..

  26. dolores baswick says:

    This is absolutely insane. What kind of person kills animals while they are still in a den. Is this the American way of hunting. Anyone who does this has no soul.

  27. Tammy says:

    This isnt right, this isnt hunting. This is just a pathetic bunch of people who just want to cold bloody kill things. Stop this

  28. Christine Okeefe says:

    Please do not allow the killing of our wildlife!

  29. liz ortner says:

    This is so wrong,in so many ways. This is not a government for the people, we are being lied to again. Shame on all of those in D.C.

  30. KATE LOETHEN says:

    Senate needs to vote NO to HJ RES 69.

  31. Lili Castillo says:

    This must be stopped. Animals must be respected.

  32. Rick says:

    This planet is meant to be shared with humans and animals it’s a balance I don’t understand why we kill animals for human space we build our homes over theirs and it’s crap just like we took the land from indians we humans think the world is ours I say put a ban on human population that’s what needs to be done the world is flooded with dumb people save the wolves ,bears, lions and any other living creature

  33. Helen Hoag says:

    This is the most sickening, abusive, and downright ignorant Congress that we have. I do not understand any abusive actions voted upon, so it has to be payoffs to certain Congress members who favor abuse, slaughter, murder,ecosystem and environmental destruction. I think American citizens and our country deserve better than this. Hopefully, once we will find out the names of these politicians, they will be voted out in the next election. As Americans we should stand up against crooked politicians and there are plenty of them.

  34. Sally Sorensen says:

    This is unconscionable! And for what?? As far as I can tell Alaska is not a cattle grazing state. Please do not allow this atrocity!!!!

  35. Eileen Sutley says:

    This is sick ! How could anyone
    Consider this alright to do.

  36. Maria Palmer says:

    So far, this is by far the most heartless, barbaric congress that has ever darkened the country’s Capitol in its history. They’ve demonstrated no respect for the environment or animals that inhabit Planet Earth. I would say what a colossal mistake was made electing them, but this election was a very sad and dishonest example of democracy. I have nothing but vile disregard for their opinions and actions. If any one of you – or possibly a majority- could possibly think beyond monetary gains to the beauty of the land and the animal’s we’ve been blessed with, you might contemplate the consequences of your vote and vote against SJRes 18.

  37. Marie Kerstetter says:

    We are on the brink of a new and horrible world. How can anyone even consider such cruelty – never mind act on it. We all must call our senators and continue to keep calling. They need to know that we WILL NOT go away and that we will continue to fight against such inhumane and barbaric practices. What kind of person kills baby Cubs in their den where they trust they are safe?
    I am so appalled and angry that I intend to scream to my senators and continue to do so until someone listens!!!

  38. Rosemary Harris says:

    I did call and wrote to my Senators in WA state. This is one response I got yesterday and wanted to share…I can’t tell if my Senator will oppose S.J. Res 18 or not? I’ll call again now to see if I can clarify, but wanted to share this. Interested in your thoughts.

    Dear Mrs. Harris,
    Thank you for contacting me regarding predator control practices on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. I appreciate hearing from you, and am a strong supporter of science-based management of our public lands and natural resources.
    The Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) works to conserve plants and animals on 89.1 million acres of public lands, including 16 national wildlife refuges in Alaska that cover 76.7 million acres. The state of Alaska is unique in that it has the authority to make wildlife management decisions on its federal lands, as long as those decisions do not violate federal law.
    It is the state of Alaska’s management policy to support the hunting and trapping of predator species to support a healthy population of game species. This policy applies to the national wildlife refuges. However, if predator control is not based on sound science, it violates the FWS’ mandate to maintain the environmental health and biological diversity in national wildlife refuges by not favoring one species over another.
    On August 3, 2016, the FWS announced a final rule to clarify predator control practices within the boundaries of the national refuges in Alaska. Specifically, the rule prohibits the killing of mother bears and their cubs, the killing of brown bears for bait, the killing of wolves and their pups at den sites, and aerial gunning. The final rule does not affect federal subsistence regulations.
    When making changes to how we manage our public lands and ecosystems, it is essential that we carefully navigate the intersecting lines of public access, stewardship, good management practices, and science-based decision making. We need to work collaboratively in a clear and transparent way to ensure the long-term preservation of our environment and its animal populations. While I do believe that we should take care of animals everywhere, I am also mindful of the need to protect our ecosystems from species that pose a real threat to their viability. Please be assured I will continue to monitor this situation, and I will take your views into consideration should I be given the opportunity to take action on this rule.
    Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

    Sincerely,
    Maria Cantwell
    United States Senator

    For future correspondence with my office, please visit my website at
    http://cantwell.senate.gov/contact/

    • Comtessa says:

      I would have replied that the only animal that needs to be controlled but yet reproduces to oblivion and uses all natural resources is the human animal.

  39. Debbie Dover says:

    Please Don’t let this happen!! Their numbers are already Down!!

  40. Debbie Dover says:

    You Cannot and Must Not continue to DESTROY our Wildlife!!
    coukd This just be about HUNTING?
    Shooting babies in a cave IS NOT HUNTING!!

  41. lalamusic58 says:

    We’re killing our future! God, save us from us…

  42. SANDI says:

    HORRIBLE…NOT HUNTING JUST PLAIN KILLING,,,,,,,GIVE THE ANIMALS A GUN NOW THAT WOULD BE FAIR..LET THEM SHOOT BACK!!!!!

  43. LISA HARRIS says:

    This is insane.

  44. jill says:

    This is beautiful wildlife. You see how many people who care. My god change your minds.. They deserve life not to be killed, such beauty!! Please don’t do this.. let them live.. It will come back to you.. They are gods creatures haven’t done anything wrong. Please think twice.. I will come there if needed.. Don’t kill them.. Im will PETA we care so should you!!!

  45. RM says:

    PA 356 was introduced and sponsored by Jon Bumstead. He termed out in 2016.

    PA 185 was sponsored by Charles Smiley – (primary, also termed out in 2016), Scott Dianda, Tom Cochran, Jon Bumstead, Charles Brunner, Phil Phelps, John Kivela, Andrea LaFontaine, Pam Faris, Andy Schor, Sheldon Neeley, Paul Clemente, Robert Kosowski

  46. Ronald H. White says:

    This should be stopped and people charged with felony . To do it for profit is as low as it gets…

  47. Louise Frazier says:

    This is inhumane and cruel.

  48. Mariam says:

    I just got informed of what is going on!
    This is terrible and tragic!
    I cannot do anything from Iran, where I live, but I will fight next to you to protect those animals.
    IT IS INHUMAN
    IT IS INHUMANE
    By destroying out earth the way we do, we are destroying us!
    Why?
    Stop killing! Stop polluting and start respecting the earth we all come from…
    WE ARE ALL ONE, may we be humans, animals or the vegetation.
    We need to treat it with care. We are alive thanks to nature!
    May the good win!

  49. Wendy says:

    There needs to be a easy way to get this complaint to outr congress, I’m not familiar with contacting any government branches, please if you could put how to go about it in Laymen terms I would share this information asap!
    Thank you

  50. D. Pruett says:

    What is the reason for a bill to kill animals who are doing no harm? I admit to zero knowledge on this, but it doesn’t seem right. If it were snakes, I’m all in, but not bears and wolves. It doesn’t sound like they are doing it to thin the herd because there isn’t enough food or something. Please consider before you vote.

  51. Denni A says:

    unfortunately the bill has just passed the Senate 52-47. the only last hurdle is Trump’s signature. the two Trump boys will be pressing him to sign the bill asap so they can be the first in a helicopter to chase down and shoot as many bears, cubs and wolves their trigger-happy fingers can muster with exultant joy of their sadistic “sport”. elections have consequences people.

    • Lee leonardos says:

      No this can’t be right? I am severely distressed that in this day and age such cruelty is allowed- and by our leaders!!! I am Australian. I have little say in America. But please please stand against this atrocity!

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