With the nation’s attention conveniently distracted by the pandemic, the National Park Service is slipping through rule changes that will allow hunters in Alaskan National Wildlife Refuges to kill baby animals and their mothers in their dens, reversing existing regulations and violating every standard of conservation, decency, and compassion. I am outraged, and you should be, too.
Under the new rules, hunters will be permitted to:
- use bait to attract and kill brown bears in federally protected lands
- use artificial light to enter dens and kill black bears, including females and their cubs, as they hibernate
- shoot caribou while they are swimming
- trap and kill wolves and their pups during denning season
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) claims the new rules are a matter of “principle” and protecting states’ rights. “Principle” is not something normally associated with Sen. Sullivan or those who encourage killing living beings for fun and recreation. Killing for sport is an abomination and the slaughter of sleeping mothers and their young is as evil as it gets. It certainly has no place in our National Wildlife Refuges.
Former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke drafted the new rule before resigning in disgrace in 2018 in the face of no fewer than 17 federal ethics investigations, but the anti-animal, anti-environment federal administration pushed it through. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) has led more than 70 of her colleagues in Congress in demanding the rule be withdrawn.
“The proposed rule would roll back critical protections for America’s beloved, rare and iconic native carnivores, including brown bears, black bears and wolves on the approximately 20 million acres of national preserves in Alaska—land that belongs to all Americans,” wrote the lawmakers. “The rule would effectively endorse the state of Alaska’s efforts to use extreme practices to reduce bear and wolf populations in order to artificially inflate populations of prey species for sport hunting.”
Zinke’s successor, David Bernhardt, had the opportunity to halt the rule changes but chose instead to ignore common sense and opposition by members of Congress, scientists, and tens of thousands of Americans. Said Theresa Pierno, president of the National Parks Conservation Association, “Shooting hibernating mama and baby bears is not the conservation legacy that our national parks are meant to preserve and no way to treat or manage park wildlife.”
I urge everyone to contact their representatives in the Senate and House of Representatives NOW and express your outrage and opposition to the National Park Service rule changes. Preserving wildlife, especially baby animals and their mothers, should not be a matter of political ideology but one of basic morality. This is an urgent call to save lives and preserve what’s left of our national decency.
Peace to ALL the animals with whom we share this planet.