WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Monday signed a resolution overturning a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulation setting wildlife management rules for refuges in Alaska.
Republican Alaska Rep. Don Young introduced the measure — House Joint Resolution 69 — in the House, eager to turn control of fish and game regulations over to the state.
FWS issued the regulation under the Obama administration last year, saying the law gave them the authority to focus wildlife management toward the goal of maintaining "natural and biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health," and limiting predator control meant to bolster caribou and other animals' populations.
A similar rule set by the National Park Service for its lands in Alaska will remain in place. The Congressional Review Act, which allows Congress to overturn regulations if they can gain presidential approval, has a time limit of 60 legislative days. The delegation will not be allowed to overturn the National Park Service rule through Congress.
Young and Alaska Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan approved of the measure, saying that the federal government was out of bounds in setting the regulation.
Young said that state management of fish and game on federal lands was part of the deal when Alaska became a state. "And that was the deal we made, and of course (Sen. Ted Stevens) and I reconfirmed that in the (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act)," he said.
Young also countered arguments made by the resolution's opponents — that the effort to retract the federal regulation, which set limits on certain hunting practices, was aimed at allowing brutal and "unsporting" hunting methods, like killing bears and wolves in dens and from planes.
"That's all nonsense," he said.
"If there's a need for predator control that's against the cloven hoof animal, the caribou and the moose, which has no defense against predator, then we're going to use methods which are most efficient," he said. But shooting wolves from planes is actually "very hard to do," Young said, noting that he has hunted wolves for most of his life. And only Alaska Native subsistence hunters may kill bears in their dens, Young said. "But to my knowledge, nobody else does."
"I was a little disappointed we didn't have a signing ceremony, but he's a busy man right now," Young said of the president Tuesday.
Murkowski noted that Trump called her after he signed the resolution Monday night.
"By signing it, the president has upheld states' rights, protected Alaska's hunting and fishing traditions, and put a swift end to the Fish and Wildlife Service's wanton effort to take greater control of nearly 77 million acres of our state," Murkowski said in a statement.
Sullivan touted the signing of the resolution as a win for "the sovereignty of Alaska in managing fish and wildlife on our lands."