During President Obama’s last days in office his administration rail-roaded numerous agenda driven rule changes for federal lands without working with hunters. One of those resolutions in effect eliminated predator control on millions of acres in Alaska and halted the efforts of state wildlife officials to manage their own wildlife.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance recently applauded the U.S. Senate’s passage of House Joint Resolution 69, which reverses an Obama-administration rules change on National Wildlife Refuge System lands in Alaska.
The rule changes, which were adopted in September 2016, expanded the definition of predator control so that state hunting management decisions (season dates, bag limits, methods of take, etc.) fell within the expanded definition and under federal jurisdiction on refuge property. This overreaching federal action banned the most reasonable and restrained means of controlling wolf, black bear and grizzly bear populations. Controlling these apex predator populations is necessary to maintain sustainable populations of prey species such as caribou, moose and other ungulates, as well as the overall balance of the ecosystem. The changes handcuffed wildlife biologists and land managers, and usurped Alaska’s right to manage game species in accordance with state goals and traditions.
H.J. Res 69, introduced by Alaska’s Rep. Don Young, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 225 to 193 and passed the Senate by a vote of 52-47, shepherded by Alaska’s U.S. Senators Dan Sullivan and Lisa Murkowski. The passage means that Alaska refuge administrators and biologists can once again manage wildlife unencumbered by federal bureaucracy and animal-rights-backed dogma.
“Today’s vote affirms what we all know to be true and in the best interest of Alaska, its wildlife and its abundant and pristine ecosystems,” said Sportsmen’s Alliance President and CEO, Evan Heusinkveld. “The best wildlife management takes place at the local level with boots-on-the-ground biologists making decisions backed by science and free of red tape.”
The Sportsmen’s Alliance, along with the Alaska Professional Hunter’s Association, filed suit in February to negate the rules changes and return wildlife management decisions and all methods of take to wildlife biologists in the state. With the Senate’s vote, the lawsuit will move forward, but will be narrowed to challenge a similar rule limiting state management of hunting on National Preserves in Alaska. The rule was adopted by the Obama administration one year ago – too long ago to be overturned by Congress using the same procedures. With the approval of H.J. Res 69 by both the House and Senate, it now heads to President Trump’s desk for a signature of approval to overturn the poor policy changes.
A portion of this article was originally published by the Sportsmen’s Alliance website. The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible.