Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke has directed the National Park Service to reverse Obama-era directives implemented in October of 2015 that prohibited certain “hunting” practices in Alaskan national park units.

Zinke is attempting to reinstate the killing of black bears with cubs and hunting them with dogs, hunting grizzlies over bait like donuts and bacon, killing of wolves and coyotes as well as pups during denning season, and the shooting caribou from boats as they attempt to swim rivers.

It is an unfortunate fact that the Alaska Fish and Game permits all these activities on non-national park units. That Fish and Game agencies condone such ethically questionable activities is really the bigger problem.

The original decision to prohibit these practices was justified by the National Park Service on ecological and ethical grounds. The NPS correctly asserted that these state-condoned wildlife killing practices could alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics and natural ecological processes. The agency also concluded that these practices were inconsistent with the sport-hunting guidelines for Alaskan national park units and might endanger public safety.

The Alaska Fish and Game assert it uses “science” to manage wildlife and any effects to the natural abundances, diversities, distributions, densities, age-class distributions, populations, habitats, genetics, and behaviors of wildlife from implementing its regulations are likely negligible.  This despite a growing body of scientific research showing that hunting does negatively impact genetics, behavior, distribution, and so forth. (see references below)

Ironically Zinke is alarmed that hunting participation by Americans is in decline, and he believes that making legal such abhorrent practices will reverse this decline. What it will do is only reduce the social license among the greater public for support of hunting in general.

Yet nothing is going to infuriate people more than expanding such ethically questionable practices. Of course, many so-called sportsmen in rural areas see nothing wrong with these practices, and it’s a little like the “me too” movement where many men were (many still are) completely oblivious to how rude jokes and sexual comments might offend women.

The NPS correctly asserts that the proposed trapping/hunting changes proposed by Zinke ignores the Park Service’s mandate to manage for ecological integrity.

To see a critical analysis of the entire paradigm behind sport hunting and so-called wildlife “management” read David Mattson’s essay the Cult of Hunting and its Timely Demise. Matteson worked for many years as a grizzly bear researcher with the USGS.

https://www.grizzlytimes.org/single-post/2018/04/19/The-Cult-of-Hunting-and-its-Timely-Demise

 

REFERENCES

Hallmarks of science missing from North American

wildlife management

Kyle A. Artelle,1,2,3* John D. Reynolds,1 Adrian Treves,4 Jessica C. Walsh,1

Paul C. Paquet,2,5 Chris T. Darimont2,3,5

Human predators outpace other agents of trait

change in the wild

Chris T. Darimonta,b,1, Stephanie M. Carlsonc, Michael T. Kinnisond, Paul C. Paquete, Thomas E. Reimchena,

and Christopher C. Wilmers

Indirect effects of bear hunting: a review from Scandinavia

Shane C. Frank1,7, Andr´es Ordiz2, Jacinthe Gosselin3, Anne Hertel2, Jonas Kindberg4,5,

Martin Leclerc3, Fanie Pelletier3, Sam M. J. G. Steyaert1,2, Ole-Gunnar Støen4, Joanie Van

de Walle3, Andreas Zedrosser1,6, and Jon E. Swenson2,4

Sport Hunting, Predator Control and Conservation of

Large Carnivores

Craig Packer1*, Margaret Kosmala1, Hilary S. Cooley2, Henry Brink3, Lilian Pintea4, David Garshelis5,

Gianetta Purchase6, Megan Strauss1, Alexandra Swanson1, Guy Balme7, Luke Hunter7, Kristin Nowell8

 

Effects of hunting on cougar spatial organization

Benjamin T. Maletzke1, Robert Wielgus1, Gary M. Koehler2, Mark Swanson1, Hilary Cooley1 &

  1. Richard Alldredge3

Hunting for large carnivore conservation

Adrian Treves*

Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 30A Science Hall, 550 North Park St.,

Madison, WI 53706-1491, USA

Decrease in Horn Size and Increase in Age of

Trophy Sheep in Alberta Over 37 Years

MARCO FESTA-BIANCHET,1 De´partement de biologie and Centre d’E´tudes Nordiques, Universite´ de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC

Canada J1K 2R1

FANIE PELLETIER, De´partement de biologie and Centre d’E´tudes Nordiques, Universite´ de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, QC Canada J1K 2R1

JON T. JORGENSON, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Suite 201, 800 Railway Avenue, Canmore,

Alberta Canada T1W 1P1

CHIARASTELLA FEDER, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, 4919-51st Street,

Rocky Mountain House, AB Canada T4T 1B3

ANNE HUBBS, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development, Fish and Wildlife Division, 4919-51st Street, Rocky Mountain House,

AB Canada T4T 1B3

 

If one wishes to comment, you can send your objections to the following.

 

Comments on the proposed rule must be received by 11:59 PM EST on [INSERT

DATE 60 DAYS AFTER DATE OF PUBLICATION IN THE FEDERAL REGISTER].

ADDRESSES: You may submit comments, identified by Regulation Identifier Number (RIN)

1024-AE38, by either of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for

submitting comments.

  • Mail or hand deliver to: National Park Service, Regional Director, Alaska Regional

Office, 240 West 5th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501.

  • Instructions: Comments will not be accepted by fax, email, or in any way other than

This document is scheduled to be published in the

Federal Register on 05/22/2018 and available online at

https://federalregister.gov/d/2018-10735, and on FDsys.gov

2

those specified above. All submissions received must include the words “National Park

Service” or “NPS” and must include the docket number or RIN (1024-AE38) for this

rulemaking

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About The Author

George Wuerthner

George Wuerthner is an ecologist and former hunting guide with a degree in wildlife biology

9 Responses to Killing bears, wolves, and coyotes in Alaskan Parks

  1. avatar Ida Lupine says:

    Has Ryan Zinke taken the title of the worst Secretary of the Interior in the history of America from James Watt?

  2. George, Well said. There is a saying that no matter what men believe or decree, the tides continue to ebb and flow. So too, wildlife species and ecosystems will keep on changing according to natural laws, not human laws. Our only hope to maximizing benefits from ecosystems is through understanding them. When agencies and special interest groups instead demand management according to their half-truths and quasi-since, they trade short term benefits for long term resource degradation if not destruction.

  3. avatar Dave Nielsen says:

    GW: All decisions pertaining to “Public Lands” should be made by State and County Governments. The public on the local level is very capable of managing public lands. The Federal Government is influenced by environmentalists and special interest groups that are far from the public lands and and are politically motivated!

    • avatar Hiker says:

      Did you even read the article? The state of Alaska has been allowing horrible hunting practices. The National Park Service stopped, until now. It seems that the proof of your argument is nonexistent, no? Most state governments are more influenced by local EXTRACTIVE interests. The Feds are typically influenced by FEDERAL LAW {ie. the entire country}. So, no, not all decisions about Public Lands {especially FEDERAL!} should be made by State or County government. Also, to say that they are wrong because they are politically motivated is funny. Anyone who is trying to influence the government is by definition political.

  4. avatar Marc says:

    I hope you are right, George, when you say “Ironically Zinke is alarmed that hunting participation by Americans is in decline, and he believes that making legal such abhorrent practices will reverse this decline. What it will do is only reduce the social license among the greater public for support of hunting in general.”

    The reaction to James Watt expanded the ranks of environmental organizations. Perhaps Zinke is what we need to expose the agenda of hunter-conservationists.

    • avatar Marc says:

      Hunting in the Maine refuge dedicated to Rachel Carson is especially egregious, as it marks the triumph of the Aldo Leopold – Teddy Roosevelt – Ryan Zinke model of hunter-conservation. No wonder Rachel Carson declared Leopold “a completely brutal man” who “[glorified] cruelty.”
      https://www.humansandnature.org/does-hunting-make-us-human-reconciling-the-land-ethic-and-the-killing-of-wildlife

      • avatar Patrick says:

        I’m admittedly a bit conflicted about deer hunting on wildlife refuges. If the deer lack predators, and are overgrazing the understory to the detriment of other wildlife, then culling them by hunting doesn’t seem to me to be that terrible an option. In our area, managed hunts are done on some park lands for that reason. That said, I think reestablishing wolves in Maine would be great, and would help control deer populations

        • avatar Hiker says:

          Where are you at? And what kind of park lands are being hunted? Is this in Maine? I agree, without natural predators hunting can be useful. However, to be truly useful in controlling numbers, female deer must be hunted more than trophy males. One surviving male can produce many offspring.

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