Time to fight maneuver by Alaska congressman to allow trophy hunters, on parks and refuges, to spot grizzlies from planes and shoot them

By on July 11, 2016 with 17 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

A Congressman who shot a grizzly bear and pinned the animal to a wall in his Washington, D.C. office is trying to subvert two closely related federal rulemaking actions that would stop some of the most ruthless predator-killing practices on the most important of our federal lands in Alaska.

This week, the 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives are expected to consider an amendment, offered by Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, to block the federal government from stopping the political appointees at the Alaska Board of Game from allowing such egregious tactics as using airplanes to scout and shoot grizzly bears; luring grizzlies with pet food to get a point blank kill; killing wolf, black bear, and coyote mothers and their young at their dens; and trapping of grizzly and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares on lands administered by the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

It’s almost unimaginable that anyone would try to sanction these appalling and unsporting hunting and predator control practices anywhere, but here Young is pushing for it to happen on National Park Service land and also on national wildlife refuges. Is nothing sacred?

I urge you to call your U.S. Representative (202-225-3121) and urge him or her to oppose Representative Young’s amendment #11 to the Interior Department’s annual spending bill and to support the decision by professional federal wildlife managers to set some minimum standards on how predators will be treated on national preserves and wildlife refuges.

The Young amendment would reverse a rule adopted months ago by the National Park Service to provide some minimal protections for grizzly bears, wolves, and other predators on federal lands. The Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing a nearly identical rule for national wildlife refuges.

A statewide poll conducted by Remington Research Group in February, after the FWS proposed rule was published, showed that Alaska voters strongly support eliminating these cruel and unsporting practices on national wildlife refuges. At a series of public meetings on the proposed rules, hundreds of Alaskans turned out to support the rulemaking actions because they want these inhumane, unfair practices to end. So it’s just a false claim from Young that the people of Alaska want to see these practices of federal lands in Alaska; the polling shows exactly the opposite.

Throngs of people from around the world travel to Alaska each year for the unique opportunity to see bears, wolves, river otters, wolverines, bobcats, and lynx in America’s national parks, preserves, and refugees. In its 2016 economic report, the National Park Service found that, “In 2015, park visitors spent an estimated $1.2 billion in local gateway regions while visiting NPS lands in Alaska. These expenditures supported a total of 17.6 thousand jobs, $595.5 million in labor income, $1 billion in value added, and $1.7 billion in economic output in the Alaska economy.”

Don Young’s amendment is economic development in reverse. If his amendment is adopted, thousands of people will be robbed of the chance to see these animals in the wild. That robs Alaska of its most sustainable and ecologically friendly source of tourism dollars.

Then again, Rep. Young isn’t representing all the people of Alaska. Young, who serves on the national board of the National Rifle Association, is shilling for special interests in his state – specifically, the small crowd who hate predators and will contravene accepted ethical standards to kill them on the very lands that the federal government has authority to manage. It’s an attack on federal wildlife managers, an assault on economic development, and it’s cruel and unsporting. Congress should tell Don Young it wants nothing to do with these dreadful, life-denying plans.

Protect Alaska’s native wildlife »

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

Subscribe to the Blog

Enter your email address below to receive updates each time we publish new content.


Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Colleen says:

    Senseless killing of animals!

  2. Claudia Hoff says:

    Idiot in congress!

  3. Teri Mitens says:

    Rep. Young will succeed in making my next vacation be anywhere BUT Alaska as is currently planned! Tourist money comes from wildlife!

  4. Denise Cox says:

    I am an Alaskan that is disgusted with Don Young’s typical unethical tactics. He is bought and paid for by the NRA and others. He’s well known for his fondness of canned hunts on private game reserves. He’s got murdered animals all over the walls of his office. Absolutely disgusting.

  5. Nate Turner says:

    Mr. Pacelle,
    As a sitting member of the Alaska Board of Game, I feel a bit qualified to comment on your appeal to action. Your description of both hunting and predator control techniques in Alaska is distorted, as most of these practices have never been employed on Federal lands and only rarely on State of private lands. Even on State lands, they have been only allowed under specific situations and close monitoring, and to aid the recovery of diminished wildlife populations for both their own sake and also the people who depend on them. When the federal agencies were asked in public meetings to provide documentation of problems that have developed on their lands (harvest numbers, abuses, etc.) , they could not provide any data to support the need for the closures, and stated so on the record. You have grossly misstated what both the NPS has done and the USFWS has proposed to do with these closures, and omitted the effect these closures will have on rural and indigenous communities especially.

    If you feel must distort the truth and omit “the rest of the story” to make your case, then I am sad for both you and those you are misleading. Shame on

    To see an early draft of the Alaska Board Game comments to the USFWS regarding the the proposed closures, please follow the link below. A finalized draft was submitted with other public comments, but we have been informed they will not directly reply to our specific questions or concerns in writing:


    • Wendy Keefover says:

      Hi Nate, I am the Native Carnivore Protection Manager at The HSUS. Notably, in recent years, former Alaska brown bear biologists published a scientific article about the disturbing decline of brown bears in Alaska as the direct result of rules promulgated by the Alaska Board of Game (BOG). Those methods, including the use of aircraft and rotten baits to aid trophy hunters so they can shoot grizzly bears with ease, are unsporting and unethical. Population declines are not limited to grizzly bears, either. Because of BOG policies, wolves have disappeared in large numbers from Denali National Park. Under BOG rules, wolves, wolverines and a whole host of other wild animals are permitted to be killed in high numbers that are unsustainable, using a combination of methods that in some cases are not allowed anywhere else in the U.S: Shooting caribou from watercraft and killing extended families of wolves and coyotes at den sites where new-born pups live; trapping and snaring bears over bait; the BOG even permits using artificial lights to kill sleeping black bear mothers and their cubs. These methods are simply disgraceful, barbaric and unsporting. Because of these egregious practices, land managers of treasured public lands, including national parks and preserves and national wildlife refuges, decided to protect America’s most iconic wildlife for all Americans, and from the outrages permitted by the BOG. This was done only after both the Park Service and the Fish and Wildlife Service tried to reason with the BOG, to no avail.

      Instead of its myopia, the BOG needs to consider the huge economic boon that this wildlife provides to all Alaskans. The Park Service recently noted in its 2016 economic report that visitors to Alaska’s parks and preserves contributed $1.7 billion to the Alaskan economy, including in gateway communities that provide thousands of jobs to Alaskans. These economic benefits far outweigh the economy of killing these majestic wild animals just so someone can pose a dead grizzly bear in their Capitol Hill office or living room.

      • Nate Turner says:

        Hi Wendy,
        I am not sure of what sources you are citing your numbers from, but they are inaccurate. The Alaskan Brown Bear / grizzly population is currently estimated at the highest densities ever recorded, and apparently still growing.
        The wolves of Denali are not harvested in the park and rarely harvested in the Preserve. Approximately four wolves are harvested on average in the former “buffer zone area”on the eastern boundary of Denali, and rarely anywhere else on the Park’s periphery. The scientist/biologists with both the National Park Service and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are in agreement that the Denali wolf declines are unrelated to the harvest of wolves that cross Park boundaries. Lack of food sources is a leading thought at this time, as both moose and caribou numbers in Denali declined rapidly in the late 1970’s and have been held to a low number due to predation of both bears and wolves. The Alaska Board of Game is not concerned with this, as we recognize that the Park was designed to allow for natural processes and population dynamics to occur. Immediately to the East of Denali, in Unit 20A there is both abundant moose and wolf populations due to active wildlife management, and both of these populations have supported sustainable hunting and trapping for decades now.Denali itself has the lowest wolf populations in relation to any of the surrounding Game Management Units; a reflection of natural diversity, natural predator prey dynamics, and likely leading to “low density equilibrium” for both predator and prey alike. This is how nature works, and why wildlife management was “invented” in the first place.

        Nowhere in Alaska is a hunter allowed to shoot a bear or wolf from an airplane as part of regulated hunting seasons.

        The use of flashlights at bear dens was authorized at the request of the rural Native Alaskans who have hunted bears in this manner for perhaps millenia. THey asked for flashlights to be authorized to help them AVOID sows with cubs, which is part of the public record, and the opposite of what has been stated by the NPS. THey desired to determine whether or not it was a grizzly or black bear in the den ( a sometimes dangerous difference), due to the increasing prevalence of grizzlies in traditional black bear denning areas (grizzlies predate on black bears and they only rarely occupy the same areas).

        I can continue point by point to address the issues you present, but I don’t believe it is necessary. I think you can see that there is another side to each of these issues that is often omitted or intentionally distorted to move people to action. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, a friend of mine often says, but not their own facts. I ask that you tune in and listen to the Board as it does it’s work, read the data and quality presentations that are available on the Board of Game website, and hopefully you will come to have another view of these matters entirely. The BOG schedule is posted on the website, as are audio of all of our public meetings. A Google search will send you in the right direction.

        • Michael Haukedalen says:

          Mr. Turner,

          I am the Alaska state director for HSUS; I live in Alaska, and work exclusively on Alaska issues. I appreciate your willingness to engage on these issues, and congratulate you on your recent reappointment to the Alaska Board of Game.

          I work closely with Alaska’s wildlife conservation organizations, and endeavor to represent the many thousands of Alaskans whose perspectives on appropriate use of our shared wildlife resources differ greatly from those held by ADF&G and the Board of Game. For example, a clear majority of Alaskans oppose using these special federal lands for cruel and unsporting hunting activities such as trapping bear by steel leg-hold traps or snares (58%) and same day fly-land-shoot (59%). This is as per an independent poll of 1,399 statewide Alaskan voters conducted by Remington Research Group on behalf of The HSUS in February 2016.

          I look forward to continuing productive dialog on these and many other wildlife issues in a setting more conducive to fostering mutual respect and understanding of reasonable, differing opinions. To that end, I welcome any opportunity for us to meet in good faith discussion of these complex, fundamental issues.


          Michael Haukedalen

        • Cheryl Fontaine says:

          Mr. whoever you are – interesting you use the word “harvest” I guess it makes it sound more like carrots or apples rather than the destruction of life.

          Odd how all the wildlife got along just fine with maintaining balance of their numbers and then men jumped in because they always think they know better than nature.

          Why don’t you quit your job, dismantle what you call the Board of Game, and do something worthwhile besides try to figure out the best to bamboozle an alarmed public into believing you are actually doing something worthwhile..you aren’t. Stop killing animals, stop trying to rearrange nature, stop trying to make it okay for fools with guns to kill.

    • Tim Lescher says:

      Nate Turner,
      You are a member of the Board of Game, true enough, but if you beleive that we Alaskans would put you in that position if we were given a vote, then you are mistaken. You, like all of the BOG, are hand-picked by the governor. You are not elected by us.

      The biggest issue I have with your board, is that you do not speak for the majority of Alaskans, and you continue to ignore the voice of the majority of Alaskans. I do not assume that you desire to have my respect, but if you do, the board needs to incorporate non-consumptive users and biologists.

      I am trained as an ecologist, and I find it very difficult to hear someone attempt to lecture others on ecology, conservation, and wildlife management when they themselves do not have a degree in any of these fields.

      I am not saying lodge owners and trappers should not have a place on the BOG. They do, but you need to diversify, and allow other groups to be represented on your board. This, I feel, would lead to more balanced decisions on the part of BOG, and would ultimately benefit the wildlife, many more Alaskans, and the BOG.

      The only shame I feel, is that we are managing our predators in Alaska the same way other states did 100 years ago, prior to wolves and bears being completely extirpated from those states. If we are the “Last Frontier” then we need to treat these animals with the same respect we give the moose and caribou. Wolves and bears, like humans, have a right to hunt in Alaska.


      Tim Lescher

  6. Sally Palmer says:

    Shooting families of grizzly bears for fun from helicopters with high-powered guns that cause ripping pain and contain lead bullets that poison the rivers is madness. Email your Congress people and tell them to stop this insanity. How can anyone call destroying an animal’s home and family; causing him or her extreme terror, agony and death; contaminating the water; reducing a species; and damaging the planet fun or sport?!?! And all on our public lands that are here to preserve nature, not turn it into a nightmare “funhouse” of vicious traps and shooting galleries.

  7. karl says:

    Ahh yes the only way for people with such low self esteem to feel good about themselves, basically murder, just – ” I have a rifle, I’m wealthy and bored and I’m going out to shoot something.”

  8. Edana Brown says:

    Interesting…. found the info below on Don Young online… he sure doesn’t seem well-respected.


  9. Ellen says:

    STOP ALL hunting!!!! The animals are doing nothing to humans. We’re in their home, NOT the other way around. Grow up and start thinking about the world and not your selfish ways!!!!!

  10. Fran Leard says:

    I am so sick of hearing about these heartless congressman to allow this hunting
    and killing our wildlife. When will these brainless idiots wake up and do the right thing to protect instead of destroying. I hope they are replaced soon.

  11. lucy taylor says:


  12. Jeannie Scott says:

    I agree with all the above comments….It is hard to believe that so many people have depraved indifference for the killing of these animals….God put them on earth for a reason and we don’t have a right to annihilate them off the face of the earth for sport or otherwise.

Share a Comment

The HSUS encourages open discussion, and we invite you to share your opinion on our issues. By participating on this page, you are agreeing to our commenting policy.
Please enter your name and email address below before commenting. Your email address will not be published.