Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and the Trump Administration have proposed eliminating National Park Service rules that prohibit sport hunters from using certain extreme hunting methods like baiting brown bears and shooting wolf and coyote pups in dens on National preserve lands in Alaska. It’s a terrible idea for two reasons. First, as a licensed resident hunter for over 50 years, I’m committed to supporting reasonable sport and subsistence hunting, but only if it’s done responsibly and ethically. The way we treat animals as hunters or non-hunters says a great deal about who we are as human beings. Giving animals a fair chance in the pursuit, and not hunting them when they are most vulnerable are hallmarks of the best of the American hunting tradition.
Allowing practices like baiting brown bears, shooting wolf and coyote pups during denning season, shooting black bear cubs and mothers with cubs, using dogs to hunt black bears, and shooting swimming caribou from motorboats is a spiteful and embarrassing attack on fair-chase and ethical sport hunting practices in Alaska. It should be condemned by all responsible hunters.
Second, National Park Preserves were established for the use and enjoyment of all Americans. When these areas were created in the early 1980s, general sport and subsistence hunting and trapping were allowed in the preserve portions of these national parks, but with reasonable restrictions and with the overall goal of maintaining natural and balanced wildlife populations. Practices that amounted to predator control — killing one species to benefit another — were never part of the intent of this legislation. And that is clearly what the current proposed rule changes seek to impose. It is more than disingenuous to say otherwise.
The Secretary of the Interior, in his statement justifying the rule change, said the proposal would create new hunting opportunities. For who? People who want to kill wolf cubs in dens in a national preserve for sport? This is a back-door form of predator control, and it is not OK on the national preserve portions of the nation’s national parks, where the mission is to protect a small part of the world to pass on to our children and children’s children