An attempted overthrow of our national wildlife refuge system

By on March 20, 2017 with 15 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

Let’s be very clear. The resolution advanced by Alaska Senator Dan Sullivan to allow unconscionable methods of hunting grizzly bears and wolves on national wildlife refuges in the state is an attack on the entire national wildlife refuge system. Sen. Sullivan wants to give the Alaska Board of Game carte blanche to allow the most unsporting and inhumane wildlife management practices imaginable on 16 Alaska national wildlife refuges covering 76 million acres. They are overthrowing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in the process.

If they can ditch the professional managers of the refuges in Alaska, what’s to stop lawmakers in every other state from putting the locals in charge elsewhere and working to enable the worst actors in their states to have their way in the refuges in their region?

In 2014, rogue rancher Cliven Bundy argued that he didn’t have to pay grazing fees for allowing his private cattle to feed on federal public lands (BLM lands) in Nevada. And last year, Bundy’s son and others took over Malhuer National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, saying it was restricting their use of these lands and that the federal government had no business being the custodian of the area.

These people had no basis for their claims. They just stamped their feet.

What’s happening in the Senate and the House is a different kind of takeover, but a takeover nonetheless.

While the actions of the Bundy clan were outrageous and grossly overreaching, what Sen. Sullivan is proposing will have more practical effect on wildlife than the Bundys’ occupation.

If he succeeds, America’s national wildlife refuge system will be in name only, and without any real meaning. If grizzly bears, black bears, and wolves cannot live in peace on national wildlife refuges, where can they live? The federal government will pay staff to be there and taxpayers will foot the costs for administration, but the state of Alaska will have free rein to do anything it wants with wildlife. What a deal. Have the feds pick up the bill for dinner, but have the locals go ahead and trash the restaurant.

In practical terms, that means hunting grizzly bears with the aid of airplanes, bait stations, and leghold traps and wire snares. It means hunting wolves and bears while they nurse their young.

In game management units in Alaska, where state officials pursue “intensive management” of predators, it’s akin to a free for all. They’ll be treating our refuges like giant game parks.

The resolution amounts to an all-out attack on the refuge system because it disempowers the agency that Congress put in charge of the entire system. As a matter of law, it’s a subversion of the landmark 1980 law, the Alaska National Interests Land Conservation Act, that passed with strong bipartisan support in Congress. That law put millions of acres under federal authority, in order to protect these places and the animals who inhabit them in perpetuity. Ironically, this attack will harm Alaskans whose local economies depend heavily on wildlife-watching tourism. Such tourism brings the state more than $2 billion each year.

If Sen. Sullivan gets his way in the Senate tomorrow, or later in the week, we might as well just let them strip the “national wildlife refuge” from the names.

It’s been a long-held ambition by some to open national parks and national wildlife refuges to any and all manner of wildlife killing. That’s exactly what these lawmakers are trying to do, and their vehicle is H.J. Res. 69.

Don’t let them overthrow the wildlife professionals who’ve been running our refuge system for more than a century. There’s no legal basis for it, it’s inconsistent with the views of most Alaskans and other Americans, and it’s an attack on the careful decision-making by professional wildlife biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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

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

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  1. RR Mier says:

    These politicians have no moral compass they’re out of control with power

  2. Nancy O'Neal says:

    Leave our animals alone

  3. Holland VanDieren says:

    Shouldn’t the call to action be to our US Senators — plural, not singular? We all have two US Senators.

    I’m in California. Can’t tell if my message was sent to both Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris.

  4. Lisa Herman says:

    Please do not hurt our precious animals.

  5. Debi says:

    Iam disgusted with this S.J Red 18. Calling my Senators now!!!!😡

  6. Annoula Wylderich says:

    A slap in the face to all those citizens who much prefer to shoot animals with a camera instead of a weapon. I hope legislators will consider the fact that there are far more people who appreciate wildlife in its natural habitat than having animal parts gracing their walls and floors, or hunting animals down for the momentary thrill of the kill. And those folks contribute significant money to the ecotourism industry. The vast majority of us want to enjoy our wildlife rather than launching an all-out war against it. This is one of the worst, most offensive pieces of legislation I have ever seen.

  7. Margaret burns says:

    We must all try and help out planet by helping wildlife survive

  8. Katherine Vick says:


  9. Marilyn Montreux says:

    Please sustain a humane environment. Caring and compassion is our right as citizens and taxpayers. Our parks do not belong to human psychopathic killers.

  10. Anne Oliver says:

    Too late
    The bill has pasAsed
    Animals have no safe haven now
    How evil men are

  11. Dieter Müller says:

    Let them run wild and free
    It’s not our World. Animals have the Same rights to live free
    Times are a changing

  12. Vicki ward says:

    Please we need do everything possible stop tbis killing of wolves bears in dens they need protected now

  13. Jan Martinez says:

    As we are all on the same hymn sheet in wanting animals to just be, we must galvanise friends and family to make their voices known . If animals voted and knew about money, it would be a different matter. They don’t but we do. Contact your Senators – votes count – they will loose money if out of office. Contact The White House by email. Action, action, action.Commiseration about how things are for animals is fine but we must all make the people that voter’s elected, aware of how high feeling is against this barbarism. Alaska is not owned by Senators – not one living being owns anything on this earth – we share for the short period we live upon it. Animals are a precious gift to us but in some peoples arrogance, it’s believed they can apportion whatever they think they will. Come on people, fight with might, united we can make opinions and numbers matter

  14. Edyth Jackson says:

    Karma is worse than how you dished it out. Eternity is much longer than life itself. You will have to explain to God one day why you killed His animals. God is no fool and you will have to pay the consequences of your greedy misdeeds to those animals. Right now it’s about Alaska and than it might come to USA. WE THE PEOPLE” in the USA will stand up and fight back. Many animal lovers now in the USA, more of us than in your government.

  15. Lori peck says:

    Bait and shoot for people sounds good for me .

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