NPS releases EA on proposed changes in sport hunting

An environmental assessment released on Sept. 5 by the National Park Service on proposed amendments to sport hunting and trapping regulations in national preservers in Alaska is open for public comment until Nov. 5.

The proposed amendments, to allow baiting brown bears, killing black bear mothers and cubs in dens, and killing wolves and pups by trapping during the denning season, would apply only in Alaska’s national preserves. The EA identifies several alternatives, including no action.

According to Peter Christian, public affairs officer for the Alaska region of NPS, some 120,000 comments have already been received on the proposed changes in hunting regulations and many more are anticipated now that the environmental assessment has been released. “This is a much larger than expected public comment, and we are hopeful to analyze it before the end of this year,” he said.

At that point NPS will consider substantive comments based on scientific or other informed opinion and use that data to identify preferred alternatives among those included in the EA.

If the analysis shows findings of significant impact, that will move the regulatory process into the need for an environmental impact statement, which takes longer and involves much more information and data.

Efforts to make the proposed changes in hunting regulations for sport hunters and trappers in Alaska’s national preserves is supported 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 NPS in their letter of Aug. 23 to keep current hunting rules in place.

The EA is a separate document from the proposed rule, which the NPS released for public comment on May 22, with a Sept. 6 deadline.

Submit comments on the environmental assessment through the NPS Planning, Environment and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/projectHome.cfm?projectId=83079.

A link to the 38-page EA may also be found at this website.

Comments may also be mailed or hand delivered to Sport Hunting and Trapping in National Preserves EA, Alaska Regional Office, EPC, 240 West 5th Ave., Anchorage, AK 99501.