He’s back. Alaska Congressman Don Young, that’s who.
After spearheading a resolution to repeal a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule restricting particularly cruel and unsporting methods of killing grizzly bears, wolves, and other native carnivores on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, he’s now taking aim at wildlife on Alaska lands managed by the National Park Service. Young plans to offer an amendment this week, during consideration of a massive spending bill, that would override federal wildlife management professionals on the ground in Alaska and open up 20 million acres of national preserves to ruthless trophy hunting and killing practices.
The February vote against wildlife in the House was one of the most disgraceful attacks ever against wildlife protection, and now it appears that round two is upon us. It’s critical that you call your U.S. Representative (202-225-3121) and urge him or her to oppose the Young amendment to allow the baiting of grizzly bears and the hunting of wolves in their dens on lands managed by the National Park Service.
It’s bad enough that Congress has cleared the path for trophy hunters and others to kill predators on national wildlife refuges with these unsporting methods. But to do it on National Park Service lands – the same agency that manages Yellowstone, Yosemite, Everglades, and other jewels in this system of lands that attract more than 300 million visitors a year – is even more unconscionable.
The attack is coming from Young and a few allies in Congress, and also from newly anointed political appointments at the Department of the Interior. In August, Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) released a leaked memo that appeared to show that newly minted higher-ups at the Interior Department had barred top officials at NPS from speaking out against a Congressional amendment to undercut the Park Service rule protecting wildlife. A senior Interior Department official sent the memo back to the NPS officials with cross-out markings on nearly all of the objections raised by NPS leaders objecting to the state of Alaska unleashing trophy hunters intent on slaughtering grizzly bears and wolves on these federal lands.
It is time to stand up against this assault on wildlife. The Alaska Board of Game wants to run Alaska like a giant game farm, assaulting predators in a ham-handed attempt to inflate moose and caribou populations. But recent data from intensive predator control areas reveals that this strategy doesn’t work – all it does is amass major body counts of bears and wolves.
In February, bowing to the wishes of Young and some state-based political appointees in Alaska, just more than 218 lawmakers (the number needed to pass a measure in the U.S. House) voted to overturn a federal rule – years in the works, and crafted by professional wildlife managers at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. They sanctioned some of 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.
The nearly identical NPS rule is a second, unwarranted assault. Hunting grizzly bears over bait, killing wolves in their dens, and other similarly unsporting practices have no place anywhere on North American lands – least of all on National Park Service lands.