Defenders of Wildlife News Release
Defenders of Wildlife and 14 other Alaska-focused organizations intervened in a lawsuit today filed by the state of Alaska against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS). The state’s suit challenges a FWS regulation that prohibits extreme predator control methods on national wildlife refuges, such as killing mother bears and cubs, killing denning wolves and pups, baiting brown bears to make them easier to shoot, and using airplanes to scout and hunt bears.
Jamie Rappaport Clark, president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, issued the following statement:
“Alaska’s extreme predator control policy targets iconic carnivores with a cold and calculating precision, killing mother bears and wolves and their young in a backwards attempt to artificially inflate game populations. This clearly violates the wildlife conservation mandate of the National Wildlife Refuge System. America’s refuges were established to ensure that all wildlife—including native carnivores like wolves and bears—thrive in their natural habitat. Alaska’s egregious program undermines the natural diversity of these wild landscapes and could decimate healthy populations of wolves and bears for generations to come.”
The state of Alaska adopted an intensive “predator control” policy in 1994 designed to dramatically suppress wolves, bears and other native carnivores in order to artificially inflate game populations. This aggressive, scientifically indefensible policy authorizes extreme hunting practices for these iconic carnivores, including trapping, baiting, killing at den sites, and culling mothers and young. In August 2016, FWS finalized the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule to prevent the application of these targeted killing methods on federal refuges in Alaska. The rule helps protect native carnivores on these public lands and ensure that our national wildlife refuges are managed in accordance with bedrock federal laws to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity.
Analogous to this rule, the National Park Service (NPS) finalized regulations in 2015 that also prohibit these extreme hunting practices in national parks. Both the FWS rule and NPS regulations support the organizations’ Congressional mandates to manage wildlife on federal lands for natural diversity, which includes maintaining healthy populations of predators like wolves and bears.
If successful, Alaska’s lawsuit would nullify these rules and regulations. More than a dozen organizations representing thousands of Alaskans and millions of Americans strongly opposed this lawsuit with today’s intervention.
Defenders of Wildlife is dedicated to the protection of all native animals and plants in their natural communities. With more than 1.2 million members and activists, Defenders of Wildlife is a leading advocate for innovative solutions to safeguard our wildlife heritage for generations to come. For more information, visit www.defenders.org and follow us on Twitter @DefendersNews.