Federal agencies move to increase Alaska hunting, trapping


ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Two federal agencies took steps to increase hunting and trapping on several national preserves in Alaska and in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in separate statements this week that the actions are designed to align federal and state law, The Anchorage Daily News reported Thursday.

Conservation groups said the new rules will support extreme measures to kill predators and their young in national preserves in Alaska, while a proposed rule change would allow brown bear baiting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for the first time.

Hunting groups and a tribal consortium said the new rules will support sport and subsistence hunters in the national preserves.

The park service announced a final rule that will roll back 2015 prohibitions affecting hunting and trapping in Alaska national preserves.

The agency manages 10 preserves in the state, including Denali National Park and Preserve.

The new rules are designed to allow hunters to kill black and brown bears over bait, black bears including cubs and females with cubs with artificial light at den sites, and wolves and coyotes including pups during the denning season.

Hunters can also kill caribou from traveling motorboats and swimming caribou.

The fish and wildlife service plans to propose separate changes affecting rules for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

The changes at Alaska’s most-visited refuge would allow state-regulated trapping and brown bear killing at registered bait stations and firearms discharge along the Kenai and Russian rivers from Nov. 1 to April 30.

The changes also include increased access for bicycles and game carts and people using snowmachines, all-terrain vehicles and utility task vehicles on certain lakes for ice fishing.

Advocacy group Defenders of Wildlife said in a statement that the federal changes are meant to support a state effort to increase game populations by driving down carnivore numbers.

“The Trump administration has shockingly reached a new low in its treatment of wildlife,” Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark said. “Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane.”

Victor Joseph, chair of the Tanana Chiefs Conference, said the group representing 42 tribes in the Alaska Interior supports the rollback.

“The previous limitations enacted in 2015 threatened our way of life and our centuries-long sustainable management practices,” Joseph said in a statement.