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The cruel hunting practices that the National Park Service is trying to reinstate in Alaska include killing hibernating mother bears and their cubs with the aid of artificial lights, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using fetid baits to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, and using packs of hounds to hunt black bears. Photo by Jos Bakker

Oct. 30, 2018 – We need your help urgently to stop a proposal that would roll back an Obama-era regulation prohibiting cruel and controversial trophy hunting and predator control methods on 20 million acres of national preserve lands in Alaska. These practices, condemned by most Americans, include killing hibernating mother bears and their cubs with the aid of artificial lights, shooting wolf and coyote pups and mothers at their dens, using fetid baits to attract brown and black bears, shooting vulnerable swimming caribou, and using packs of hounds to hunt black bears.

The National Park Service, which has proposed this change, will shortly close public comment, and we’d like to ask you to weigh in no later than the end of this week. Alaska’s national preserve lands belong to all Americans, and we cannot stand by as our government turns them into playgrounds and killing fields for trophy hunters.

In April, we got a taste of just what will happen if this rule is allowed to go into effect, when a poacher and his son were caught on camera in a remote area of Alaska allegedly shooting a sleeping mother bear in her den and in front of her two shrieking cubs who then were also shot. These terrible methods of hunting are utterly contrary even to the agency’s own statutory mandates to conserve native species on behalf of the American public. If bears and wolves cannot thrive, safe from such barbaric killing practices, on our national preserves, where are they expected to live?

Alaska has been trying for years to expand the use of fringe hunting methods to prioritize trophy hunting and predator control over conservation, but the NPS, which has clear statutory directives from Congress to protect wildlife on national preserves, had pushed back, recognizing the importance of conserving our native carnivore species for the benefit of all of the American public.

However, after a new administration took office, the agency did a complete about-face. Department of Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke ordered that hunting opportunities on federal lands should be expanded. But a secretarial order cannot legally override congressional directives, and Congress clearly directed NPS to protect wildlife in perpetuity.

Support for this proposal is lacking among many stakeholders, including biologists, who have condemned it in large numbers, and Alaskans themselves. A May 2018 poll shows that a supermajority of Alaska’s residents oppose allowing cruel hunting methods in their state. Some 71 percent of Alaskan voters oppose allowing hunters to kill hibernating mother black bears and their cubs in the den with the aid of artificial lights. Sixty-nine percent oppose hunting black bears with packs of hounds, and 75 percent oppose hunting swimming caribou with the aid of motorboats. Sixty percent of Alaskan voters oppose the baiting of bears with pet food, grease, rotting game or fish or other high-calorie foods, and 57 percent oppose killing whole packs of wolves and coyotes when they are raising their pups in their dens.

If we don’t speak up for America’s carnivores now, it could be too late. Please tell the Department of Interior that you do not support this handout for trophy hunters and urge them to keep in place the prohibitions on these cruel and unsporting hunting and trapping methods on Alaska’s national preserve lands.

Kitty Block is acting President and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States and President of Humane Society International, the international affiliate of The HSUS. www.humanesociety.org