Urge President Trump to Keep Protections for Wildlife in Alaska's Refuges
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The United States Senate recently passed, by a vote of 51 to 47, S.J. Res. 18. In conjunction with the companion resolution previously passed by the House of Representatives, H.J. Res. 69, this measure seeks to overturn a 2016 ruling by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service regarding the “Non Subsistence Take of Wildlife” in the 16 National Wildlife Refuges managed by the Service in Alaska. The joint resolutions represent a huge step backwards in wildlife conservation, allowing cruel and unethical practices to be used by trophy hunters, including:
- Taking (i.e. killing) black or brown bear cubs, or sows with cubs, even while denning;
- Taking brown bears over bait;
- Taking bears using traps or snares;
- Taking wolves or coyotes during denning season;
- Taking (and spotting) bears from an aircraft.
Apart from making a mockery of the concept of “fair chase” in hunting, the joint resolutions disrespect the interest that all American taxpayers have in the full panoply of wildlife protected by our National Wildlife Refuges, which were established by the federal government primarily for conservation purposes. The resolutions' sponsors – Alaska's sole Representative, Don Young, and Alaska's two Senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan – have chosen to sacrifice the national interest in the service of a tiny minority of trophy hunters. In so doing, they also jeopardize the $2 billion wildlife watching economy in their own state, and ignore the science proving that the presence of predators does not harm the ungulate populations upon which many Alaskans rely for subsistence.
The Fish & Wildlife Service did its due diligence in passing its rule banning these heinous practices. It carefully considered the underlying purpose of the National Wildlife Refuge System, the scope of federal authority, and any possible conflicts with the Alaska National Interest Land Conservation Act. Its judgment should not be overruled by a coterie of politicians in thrall to special interests.
The President of the United States is now the only constitutional barrier separating some of our country's most precious wild animals from unjust and unwarranted suffering. This is not a “states' rights” issue; it is a national issue. We call upon the President to demonstrate the leadership that the whole country deserves, and to veto S.J. Res. 18 and H.J. Res. 69.
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