A rather ugly piece of legislation quietly passed on the House floor last week that would end regulations disallowing the use of baiting, spotlighting and aerial spotting to hunt predatory animals on national preserve lands in Alaska. In addition, H.J. Resolution 69 would allow the killing of wolf and bear cubs in dens.
The Obama-era Department of Interior regulations have been unpopular with some Alaskans. “From the beginning, I said I would do everything in my power to overturn this illegal jurisdictional power grab by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” said Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who introduced H.J. Res. 69. “Today, we’re one step closer to delivering on that commitment and eliminating a wrongful seizure of Alaska’s fish and wildlife management authority.”
It was a classic, State vs Federal power grab and despite serious objections from the Sierra Club, Humane Society, and Alaska Wildlife protection groups, it easily passed the House and moves on to the Senate (most representatives voted along party lines) .
The Humane Society released a statement that was adamant in its defiance: The vote in favor of H.J. Resolution 69, authored by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, was 225 to 193. 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, spotting grizzly bears from aircraft and then shooting them after landing, and trapping grizzly bears and black bears with steel-jawed leghold traps and snares. The stuff of wildlife snuff films.
As a hunter myself, I find these practices more than disturbing. And on Federal reserves no less, where these animals are supposed to be protected. Seasonal management of predators, using tags as part of regulated hunts, are very reasonable ways to control predator populations. If predators are becoming a problem, increase the amount of tags per season and bag limits. But the practices included in these resolutions are inhumane to the most reasonable of people: shooting animals with the use of airplanes, spotlighting, killing in dens? That’s pretty gnarly stuff and as the Humane Society stated in its release, this was simply a play in the old Feds vs State back and forth, this time driven fully by the NRA and the Safari Club.
It’s ironic that two lobby groups—albeit ones that represent hunter’s interests—aren’t even based in the state, yet are having real sway in such a nasty “State’s Rights” battle. Unfortunately, this whole mess seems littered with contradictions.