During the Obama administration, the US Fish and Wildlife Service put new rules in place to protect Alaska’s wildlife in its 16 national refuges. According to The Guardian, the new regulations would:
“effectively ban ‘non-subsistence’ slaughter of predators within the refuges without a sound scientific reason. Practices to be outlawed include the killing of bear cubs or their mothers, the controversial practice of bear baiting and the targeting of wolves and coyotes during the spring and summer denning season.”
Now, the House has voted to overturn these regulations. The vote will shortly go to the Senate.
Why did the House vote to do this?
According to those who voted “yay”, state rights are important and these regulations were federal overreach. Alaska claims it knows how to healthily manage its wildlife population without federal government interference. In addition, native populations rely on hunting for food, and the federal rules hurt them.
But, is any of that true?
State rights are important. Yet, the rules applied to national refuges. As for Alaska being able to manage its ecosystem properly, that is highly debatable. “Intensive Management” has been the official state plan – which means killing off predators like wolves and bears to increase moose and caribou populations. The Guardian interviewed a retired wildlife biologist, Francis Mauer:
“We have a fiscal crisis here in Alaska but we see a large amount of money spent on ineffective hunting policies…The state has aggressively increased the killing of predators to the point where anyone can kill 10 wolves a day for 345 days of the year. This kind of approach isn’t supported by the science.”
As for natives needing to hunt – the native populations use traditional means of hunting, and have not been shooting animals from helicopters for sport. A hunter looking for food is not interested in killing a bear cub. Plus, the regulations applied to non- substinence hunting only.
It is important to mention that a Remington Research Group poll found that by a 2-1 margin, Alaskans oppose baiting or trapping on national refuges.
If the bear and wolf population decline, is that really so terrible? They are animals that pose a threat to humans.
A healthy ecosystem has predators. Wolves hunt by looking for the weaker animals – the fastest and strongest are not worth the extreme effort for a decent meal. Those strong animals who escape the predator likely have a high percentage of healthy offspring.
I recentły read a book called The Great White Bear, by Kieran Mulvaney. The sick, skinny polar bears were vicious towards humans because they were desperate for food and were willing to take risks. The healthy, happy ones were not aggressive unless directly, forcefully threatened.
This professional research study talks a bit about the northern climates’ predator-prey relationship and how important it is to keep it naturally balanced.
What can I do?
Contact your senators!
Give to organizations like the Sierra Club.
If you are a hunter, support and participate in hunting clubs that do not use cruel methods. Speak out against those that do.
(picture: I took this at my local zoo)