In 2020, former President Trump allowed Alaskan hunters to use controversial methods for hunting. Now, President Biden and the National Park Service plan to restore Obama-era protections.
Black bears baited with doughnuts. Swimming caribou shot from motorboats. Wolves and their pups killed in their own dens.
Those are a few of the Alaskan hunting practices that saw a return to legality under the leadership of former President Donald Trump. Now, the National Park Service (NPS) and President Joe Biden will likely amend those rules, bringing back protections the Obama administration first established in 2015.
These hunting practices — which included baiting black bears with doughnuts and using spotlights to shoot hibernating bear cubs in their dens — have been called cruel by conservationists.
On Friday, the NPS issued a news release announcing its intention to remove the Trump-era hunting rules.
“This proposed rule would realign our efforts to better manage national preserve lands in Alaska for natural processes, as well as address public safety concerns associated with bear baiting,” NPS Alaska Regional Director Sarah Creachbaum said.
‘Extremely Cruel’ Hunting Practices
With its new proposal, the NPS plans to prohibit methods it considers “inconsistent” with sport hunting. That includes killing big game while the animal is swimming, killing wolves and coyotes during their “denning period,” and generally prohibiting “predator control” on national preserves, the NPS wrote.
Those methods of hunting are “extremely cruel,” according to a statement from The Humane Society of the United States. It’s asking Americans to sign a petition supporting the NPS rule changes in Alaska.
“These practices include some truly horrific methods that most hunters abhor, like killing hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in their dens,” the group wrote.
Conservation groups sued the government over those practices in 2020. While the case is still pending, a federal judge ruled in their favor in September.
Pushback could come from a contingent of Republican Attorneys General, who lumped Alaskan hunting rules into a Dec. 2022 Congressional petition aimed at fortifying states’ rights.
“Millions of Americans hunt. They hunt different species, in different places, with different tools and techniques, and for different reasons,” it says. “Because a one-size-fits-all approach does not work, state control over hunting is important in the wilds of Alaska, West Virginia, and everywhere in between.”
No Alaskan representative undersigned the 37-page document.
If Biden does move forward with the NPS’ proposal, it wouldn’t be the first time he has reversed Trump-era policies on the environment. The same thing happened with Bears Ears National Monument, a new federal designation approved by Obama, gutted by Trump, and then restored by Biden.
Alaska Sen. Dan Sullivan, a Republican, called the Biden administration’s plan “a clear violation of federal law,” and said it was part of a “war” against the state, The New York Times reported.