National Park Service proposes ban on 'controversial' hunting and trapping methods in Alaska's federal preserves

Alex DeMarban, Anchorage Daily News, Alaska on

Published in Outdoors

The National Park Service wants to reinstate bans on what it describes as "controversial" hunting and trapping activities on Alaska's federal preserves, including luring bears with bait, shooting swimming caribou or killing wolf pups in their dens.

The agency, saying the activities do not meet traditional notions of sport hunting, is also proposing to ban predator reduction efforts on its preserves, according to an eight-page notice of the proposed rules published Monday in the Federal Register.

The publication launches a two-month public comment period ending March 10.

The Biden administration's proposal marks the third time in eight years the federal government has visited the subject of hunting and trapping in Alaska's federal preserves. If enacted, the current proposal would reinstate Obama-era rules authorized in 2015 and reversed in 2020 under the Trump administration.

The state of Alaska and a hunting guide group expressed opposition to the proposal, saying it would erode the state's ability to manage wildlife and could jeopardize some efforts that reduce predator numbers.

Conservation groups praised the plan, saying it will stop inhumane hunts in preserves, increase tourism by protecting wildlife and improve visitor safety by reducing the potential for encounters between bears and people.


The National Park Service said in a statement last week that the proposal, if enacted, will "properly reflect the federal government's authority to regulate hunting and trapping" on national preserves in the state.

"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," said Sarah Creachbaum, Alaska regional director for the National Park Service.

But state wildlife officials say the federal government's contention is wrong: If the Park Service regulates hunting and trapping on federal preserves, that cuts into the state's statutory responsibilities.

Doug Vincent-Lang, commissioner of the state Department of Fish and Game, said in an interview that the proposed change will affect Alaska's right under federal law to manage hunting and fishing in the state, including on federal lands.


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