Interior Department, key House Republicans maneuver to open National Park Service lands to killing grizzly bears, wolves

By on August 23, 2017 with 24 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

In April, President Trump signed a resolution, enabled by the Congressional Review Act and passed by Congress on a near party-line vote, that repealed a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) rule restricting particularly cruel and unsporting methods of killing grizzly bears, wolves, and other predators on national wildlife refuges in Alaska. There are now multiple indications that the Trump administration and some allies in Congress are gearing up to unwind a nearly identical rule, approved nearly two years ago, that restricts these appalling predator-killing practices on 20 million acres of National Park Service (NPS) lands in Alaska. Our humane community nationwide must ready itself to stop this second assault on a class of federal lands (national preserves) set aside specifically to benefit wildlife.

Today, the Sacramento Bee’s Stuart Leavenworth broke the story that Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) had obtained a leaked memo that appears to show that senior political appointees at the Department of the Interior have barred top officials at NPS from speaking out against a widely circulated draft bill in Congress – the SHARE Act – that includes a provision to repeal the parks rule. The bill, which will be assigned to the House Committee on Natural Resources, contains a host of anti-wildlife provisions. Top officials at NPS reviewed the bill and objected to many provisions, and memorialized those objections in an internal memo. A senior Interior Department official sent back the memo to the NPS officials with cross-out markings on nearly all of the objections raised by the NPS. That helps explain why lawmakers on Capitol Hill have not heard a negative word from the NPS about this legislative package and its provisions that amount to an assault on the wildlife inhabiting Alaska’s national preserves.

Several weeks prior, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke had signaled his desire to reopen the NPS predator control rule, with an eye toward changing and even gutting it. The rule passed with almost no dissent when NPS adopted it in October 2015.

In short, there is a double-barreled attack on the rule, and the administration seems to be locked and loaded on both strategies – one legislative and the other executive.

In March, the House voted 225 to 193 in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, to repeal the USFWS rule on predator killing. Those 225 members voted to overturn a federal rule – years in the works, and crafted by professional wildlife managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – to stop some of the most appalling practices ever imagined in the contemporary era of wildlife management. Denning of wolf pups, killing hibernating bears, baiting grizzly bears, and trapping grizzly and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and snares. It’s the stuff of wildlife snuff films.

Just weeks later, the Senate followed suit, passing S.J.R. 18 by a vote of 52 to 47. I was so proud of New Mexico Senator Martin Heinrich, himself an ardent sportsman, and Sens. Dick Blumenthal, D-Conn., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and Tom Udall, D-N.M., for deconstructing the phony arguments advanced by the backers of the measure. If they had been arguing the case in front of a jury, they would have carried every fair-minded juror considering the evidence and honoring a standard of decency. They eviscerated the phony states’ rights arguments advanced by their colleagues. Their false subsistence hunting arguments. Their inaccurate representations of the views of Alaskans.

President Trump then signed H.R. Res. 69/S.J.R. 18 and repealed the USFWS rule.

The USFWS rule was at particular risk because it had been adopted in 2016, and the Congressional Review Act allows Congress and the president to nullify recently adopted rules with simple majority votes in both chambers and no committee review of the measures. The nearly identical NPS rule came out a year earlier and the CRA doesn’t apply to such long-standing rules. In short, the Department of the Interior could weaken the rule by opening a new rulemaking process, or Congress could repeal it (albeit without the expedited review and also perhaps without a simple majority vote in the Senate).

Today’s reporting by the Sacramento Bee, and the work of PEER, have sent up a flare, warning the world that there is maneuvering to launch an unacceptable assault on wildlife on National Park Service lands. Hunting grizzly bears over bait, killing wolves in their dens, and other similarly unsporting practices have no place anywhere on North American lands, and least of all on refuges and preserves. We’ll need you to raise your voice and write to your lawmakers, urging them to block any serious consideration of the SHARE Act in its current form. And tell Secretary Zinke that’s there’s no honor and no sportsmanship in allowing these practices on national preserves.

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

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  1. Karen Koermer says:

    We are surely bigger and better citizens to even consider a bill to allow hunters to kill innocent animals in parks that belong to all of us and many of us are not hunters. Why would it fascinate anyone to hunt on public land and create more danger to not only animals but also visitors to the parks??
    I hope we can stop all these foolish and completely ludicrous trends.

  2. Constance Pennington says:


    • marcia says:

      YES CONSTANCE! I too am republican and am OUTRAGED by this WILDLIFE MASSACRE! It’s all for ranchers &their destructive livestock as well as gas/oil/mining industry I sadly believed mr Trump when he said the country would be returned to us,the people We would all be heard That is certainly not true We MUST VOTE THESE WILDLIFE MURDERERS OUT OF OFFICE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The MAJORITY of AMERICANS are AGAINST these measures where is the media? the marches and protests for something that is moral and just??????

    • Jenai Herod says:

      a republican vote is a vote for DEATH

    • Windrunner says:

      I completely agree with you Constance. I’m with you all the way, regardless of state or city. I wish more people felt the way you and I do. We must stop all this horrendous murdering of innocent wildlife. Turn the guns on the murderers!

    • MR R.Marsh says:

      Nice One Sir!! Welcome to the Light Side and Rebel ALLIANCE For MAMMALS DEFENCE!!&;)

    • Leslie Abrahams Gosling says:

      Agreed! I vote for the candidate who will be the best for all Animals

    • susan says:

      I so agree-vote out any public representative on the county, State or Federal levels who support killing of any wildlife. Thank you!

  3. Barbara Sikes says:

    This is wrong it has to be stopped!

  4. Deb Chirgwin says:

    This slaughter of our wildlife has to stop!! There is no excuse or reason for all this extermination!!

  5. Daphne Armati, Warrenton, VA says:

    Trading oil and shale,etc for the lives of innocent wildlife and national parks is unacceptable and must be stopped!! We cannot allow the Trump administration to walk all over us by doing away with protection of wildlife in order to line their own pockets!!

    • Maria Roberts says:

      I absolutely agree, the slaughter of our precious wildlife must not be allowed! Killing for “sport” is cowardly and vile. The fact is, most people are against trophy hunting. Killing wolf pups and black bear cubs with their mothers, as well as allowing horrible traps to be places, killing animals slowly in agony will soon be allowed in Alaska “Refuges”! What were they thinking to allow this in the Congress and Senate? Clearly, the interests of wealthy trophy hunters, such as Trump’s sons, that are unfeeling, cruel and selfish men now will get their way. People come from all over the world to see our National Parks and our beautiful wildlife. They shake their heads about this! Gray wolves have been on the endangered list for some time, yet now they will again be hunted, headed for extinction. In addition, the “shrinking” of “King” Trump’s National Monuments and Parks will rob us of our heritage. Our climate change is hard enough on the animals, senseless killing is next! What barbaric people are running this country? We must stand up against this bloodshed of our treasured wildlife.

  6. Patricia Martin says:

    This is unconscionable and cruel! Please do not do this.

  7. joan says:

    We have a new government in B.C. Canada now,one that keeps its promises made in the elections, one that uses intelligence , not the right wingers cunning. when it comes to the wild life conservation there will not be any trophy hunting of grizzlies,killing from helicopters of any species or poisoning in the dens of our wolves, coyotes or bears. sadly at times the government will carry out culling of certain species deemed necessary for the overall health of that particular group . trophy hunters are not welcome here, we do not need your blood money.

    • Leslie Abrahams Gosling says:

      Actually Joan BC is still going to allow hunting for the meat of grizzlies. Just not trophy hunting. Well who eats grizzlies, no one! This is loophole and trophy hunters will take advantage of it even if they just stand on the poor grizzly and smile for a picture…….

  8. Janette Mejia says:

    Disgusting cruelty is being allowed in Alaska. We need to stop the war on wildlife in it’s tracks. Say No to hunting in our National Parks and let’s find a way to end the torture of wildlife in Alaska. Using barbaric steel leg hold traps and shooting animals in their dens is horrific and it makes me ill that people actually voted for this to happen. What a bunch of monsters we have running our country these days. Unconscionable!!!

  9. Elaina Proffitt says:

    This must be blocked! How do we do this? I will call my Representatives again. It makes me physically sick thinking of the terror and pain suffering these beautiful innocent animals will face. WHO DOES SUCH A THING? This IS Pure Evil. This is not hunting this is slaughter blood sport. Even Alaska Citizens did not want this but we have corruption with this Administration and it must be removed. and these heinous bill voided. Prayers day and night.. WE have to stop them!!

  10. Jenai Herod says:


  11. Carole Giacomazzo says:

    This entire plan or idea or whatever you want to call it is absolutely insane. To think that our government wants to kill wolves and their pups in their dens, wants to kill bears and their cubs in their period of hibernation in their dens, wants to kill grizzly bears by shooting them in their habitats is lunacy. It’s as bad as the plan to decimate our wild horse and burro populations in the western states. WHY? There is no good reason for any of this, I voted for President Trump to help our country and make it great again. I didn’t vote for any of these terrible ideas and will fight every day for the lives of these icons of our wildlife population across our country. I don’t agree with any of these proposed bills or laws or ideas of the Republican Party. I, in fact, am ashamed that any of these proposals are being made by the Republicans. I’ll keep on contacting Congress to stop this idiocy but am getting tired of having to do so in order to protect our wildlife. They are a part of our country, leave them alone……

  12. Tricia Hamilton says:

    This is horrible from a #FAKE PRESIDENT Who hired every bad person on earth. So this whole white house BLOWS!!

  13. E.August Allen says:

    Correction, the Senate passed HJ Resolution 69, not SJ Resolution 18, which still stands as “introduced”. The bill did not change its title when heading to the Senate for a vote.

  14. Gail Wengerd says:

    Gail Wengerd

    As a card carrying member of the Humane Society, I am completely appalled by this – this administration seems bent on making wildlife extinct as quickly as possible. Who elected these twits anyway – it sure wasn’t me!

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