n August 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) published final regulations governing the killing of bears, wolves, coyotes, and wolverines in national wildlife refuges in Alaska including nearly 20 million acres of designated Wilderness on the refuges. These regulations preempted several State of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations meant to reduce populations of bears, wolves, coyotes, and wolverines with the intent to increase moose and caribou numbers. These state regulations conflict with FWS’s responsibility to protect the natural diversity of wildlife in national wildlife refuges in Alaska.
Despite strong public opposition, including thousands of letters sent by Wilderness Watch supporters, in February/March 2017 Congress used the little-known "Congressional Review Act" (CRA) to issue a "resolution of disapproval" to repeal the new FWS rule.
(Under the CRA, all it takes is a simple majority in both the U.S. House and Senate to "disapprove" of a new federal rule. If Congress "disapproves" of the rule, and the president signs the resolution, the rule is dead and the federal agencies are not allowed to re-issue the rule or craft a similar rule in the future.)
Trump signed the law in early April 2017, again allowing the following practices to kill wildlife in national wildlife refuges in Alaska:
• Same day airborne hunting of bears, wolves, and wolverines;
• Use of traps, snares, and nets for killing bears;
• Killing of wolves and coyotes from May 1 to August 9, which is a significant part of the denning season;
• Killing of bear cubs or mothers with cubs (except for subsistence hunts where this is traditional); and
• Use of bait to kill brown bears.
While this is clearly not the outcome we've been working for, Wilderness Watch will continue to fight to protect wildlife and to ensure that natural processes are allowed to shape our national wildlife refuges and designated Wildernesses of Alaska.
• Read Wilderness Watch's comments on the FWS regulations.