Two federal agencies are relaxing Obama-era regulations on wildlife, now allowing for more hunting and trapping at national preserves throughout Alaska. The Alaska Daily News reports that the rolling back by the National Park Service and Fish and Wildlife Service of the 2015 prohibitions will allow hunters to take black bears, wolves, and coyotes, as well as their young, from their dens using artificial light, as well as hunt caribou from motorboats. They'll also be permitted to bait brown bears in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. "We are eliminating a wrongful federal seizure of Alaska's authority," GOP Rep. Don Young says in an NPS release. Gov. Mike Dunleavy agrees, noting in a release from the FWS that "expanding recreational opportunities and state management ... benefits Alaskans and tourists alike." He also gives thanks to President Trump and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt.
A tribal consortium representing dozens of tribes also supports the move, saying the 2015 regulations were put in place without consulting them and that the rollback will help subsistence and sport hunters. "The previous limitations ... threatened our way of life and our centuries-long sustainable management practices," the chair of the Tanana Chiefs Conference says, per the Daily News. Critics of the change, however, say the move will up the game population in the preserves by killing off predators, which will upend the preserves' ecosystems. A rep for the nonprofit conservation group Center for Western Priorities calls the change "amazingly cruel," per the Guardian. "Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane," the head of Defenders of Wildlife, another nonprofit, tells the Daily News. (Read more Trump administration stories.)