AD Main Menu

Killing of wolves, bears in Alaska national parks, preserves restricted

Craig MedredAlaska Dispatch

Moving against state regulations it strongly opposes, the National Park Service plans to stop wolf killing, brown bear baiting, killing of bears in their dens during hibernation as well as taking sows with cubs on lands it manages.

“We will be vigorously advocating that all these methods be banned on park service lands (because they) . . . give an unfair advantage to the hunter or just downright barbaric,” according to a press release from the National Parks Conservation Association

The action follows efforts to exempt National Park Service lands from what federal parks officials considered “objectionable hunting methods” at the Alaska Board of Game meeting earlier this month. The Park Service supported five proposals exempting lands managed by the agency from baiting, snaring, spotlighting as well as shooting cubs or sows with cubs and taking wolves when they are raising cubs. The Board of Game voted all five down.

According to KTUU, the Park Service specifically proposed prohibiting wolf and coyote hunting between May 1 and Aug. 9 in federal parks and preserves, as well as the hunting of brown bears at bait stations.

"We are looking at them in terms of managing national parks and preserves as a place where we protect natural processes," said Debora Cooper, the Park Service's associate regional director for Alaska.

The state disagrees. Craig Fleener, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, told KTUU that the changes will hurt Alaska Natives.

"When the (Park Service) eliminates a legitimate subsistence opportunity for Alaskans, it's always a concern of ours," Fleener said. "The Park Services incorrectly sees this as predator control and it really isn't. The Board of Game is providing additional opportunity to wolf harvest on really abundant wolf populations."