Comment now on proposed hunting rules in national preserves

A sow keeps an eye on her two cubs while they eat in interior Alaska in late June, 2017. (NPS Photo/Emily Mesner)

Comments are due by Sept. 6 on proposed changes in hunting regulations that would allow baiting brown bears, killing black bear mothers and cubs in dens and killing wolves and pups by trapping during the denning season in Alaska’s national preserves.

The effort to put these changes into effect in Alaska’s national preserves for sport hunters and trappers is backed by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. If approved the proposed rule would remove a regulatory provision issued by the National Park Service in 2015 that prohibits certain sport hunting practices otherwise permitted by the state of Alaska.

More than 100 scientists and natural resource managers from Alaska, other states, Canada and other nations urged the National Park Service in a letter on Aug. 23 to retain the current hunting rules.

“The decision to rescind the 2015 NPS wildlife regulations for 20 million acres in Alaska will be another step by Secretary Zinke to abandon the principal of stewardship of America’s wildlife and habitat which is the guiding principal of our national parks,” said former Alaska Gov. Tony Knowles, chair of the NPS national advisory board, who was among the signers.

The initial comment deadline, July 23, was extended to Sept. 6 and an additional extension has been requested by several parties, according to the National Parks Conservation Association, because the environmental assessment on the proposed rule change was still pending as of Aug. 28. In order for the proposed rule change to proceed, the National Environmental Policy Act dictates that the National Park Service must issue a finding of no significant impact, also known as a FONSI, on such changes.

More information from the Federal Register notice is online at https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2018/05/22/2018-10735/alaska-hunting-and-trapping-in-national-preserves

Comments may be submitted to the federal Rulemaking portal, www.regulations.gov or hand delivered or mailed to National Park Service, Regional Director, Alaska Regional Office, 240 West 5th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501.

Comments will not be accepted by fax, email or other means.

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