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ALERT: Help End State Predator Control on Alaska’s Wildlife Refuges

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Please voice your support for the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s proposed regulations by:

* Submitting written comments

* Signing an online petition

* Attending a workshop in Juneau, Fairbanks or Anchorage

 

Dear Wildlife Supporter:

Last month we sent an Alert detailing the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s proposed rule to ban Alaska’s predator control (intensive Management) programs on national wildlife refuge lands. These are the programs that kill excessive numbers of predators – primarily wolves and bears – to increase prey – most often moose and caribou – for hunters.

In February we asked our Alaska supporters to attend and testify at one of three USFWS public hearings. Thank you to the many who did just that! Nearly all of the attendees at the Fairbanks meeting spoke in favor of the ban, and at the Soldotna and Anchorage meetings testimony was close to 50-50 for and against – a very strong showing for our side!

Now we need your written comments in support of the proposed ban on predator control measures. The deadline for written comments (initially March 7) has been extended to April 7, 2016.

You may submit comments by:

Email:    click on http://www.regulations.gov. In the Search box, enter the docket number for this rule: FWS–R7–NWRS–2014–0005, then click on the Search button. On the following page, click “Comment Now!”

Mail:
Public Comments Processing
Attn: FWS–R7–NWRS–2014–0005
Division of Policy, Performance, and Management Programs
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, MS: BPHC
5275 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church, VA 22041-3803

We need everyone to comment in support of this ban! Even if you testified at one of the Alaska hearings, please send written comments as well!

For more background on the USFWS’s proposed rule and additional suggested talking points, see last month’s alert  here.

We encourage our supporters living outside of Alaska to comment on this rule. You can emphasize the point that these are national wildlife refuges and as such they are a resource that belongs to all Americans, not just a few Alaskans who want plentiful moose and caribou for easy hunting.

An online petition by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) can be found at: https://www.change.org/p/help-protect-wildlife-on-national-wildlife-refuges-in-alaska. Please add a brief comment after “I’m signing because…”. In its first week the petition gathered nearly 40,000 signatures!

In addition, the HSUS has scheduled free one-hour workshops in Juneau, Fairbanks and Anchorage next week. Each event will feature information about the proposed USFWS rule, talking points to support it, and ways to advocate for its approval.

Juneau:
Monday, March 14, 6:00 pm
Juneau Library, Small Meeting Room
292 Marine Way

Fairbanks:
Tuesday, March 15, 6:00 pm
Noel Wien Library, Conference Room
1215 Cowles Street

Anchorage:
Wednesday, March 16, 6:00 pm
Anchorage Animal Care and Control, Meeting Room
4711 Elmore Road

Please help AWA and the HSUS voice strong support for the Fish & Wildlife Service plan to stop extreme predator control programs on Alaska’s wildlife refuges!

We need to stand strong with the USFWS and say “No!” to predator control on wildlife refuges.

Thank you for speaking up for Alaska’s wildlife. This is a great opportunity for us to help the feds “push back” against the state’s extreme and ever-expanding predator killing programs.

Ed Schmitt, President

Speak up to ban predator control on Alaska’s wildlife refuges

 *****
BELOW IS THE CONTENT OF AN ALERT WE SENT IN FEBRUARY REGARDING ATTENDING THESE MEETINGS TO COMMENT-THE MEETINGS HAVE ALREADY HAPPENED. WE ARE NOW SENDING A SECOND ALERT ABOUT SUBMITTING WRITTEN COMMENTS, AND WE ARE REFERRING BACK TO THIS ALERT FOR ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND INFORMATION
*****
Please join AWA in speaking up to support the US Fish & Wildlife Service’s proposed regulations to ban predator control on Alaska’s wildlife refuges
The US Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) will host open houses / public hearings in three Alaska cities this month soliciting comments for its regulations that would end the state’s predator control (Intensive Management) programs on national wildlife refuge lands. These are the programs that allow excessive numbers of predators – primarily wolves and bears – to be killed to increase prey – namely moose and caribou – for hunters.
We need your participation to tell the FWS we enthusiastically support these proposed regulations!
Location
Open house
     Hearing
February 10
Wednesday
Fairbanks
Morris Thompson Cultural and Visitor Center
101 Dunkel St.
5 to 6 p.m.
6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
February 16
Tuesday
Soldotna
Kenai NWR Visitor Center
Ski Hill Road
4 to 5 p.m.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
February 18
Thursday
Anchorage
US FWS Regional Office
1011 Tudor Road
4 to 5 p.m.
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
NOTE: If you cannot attend a meeting in person, please use the FWS’s new call-in service, available during the above meeting times: 1-877-784-8548, passcode 32753227#
The FWS also is accepting written comments; the deadline is March 7. We will be sending information soliciting written comments in a separate Alert.

 

Suggested Talking Points for public testimony are provided below.

 

Background: Congress established the National Wildlife Refuge System with the stated purpose of conserving natural diversity and ecological processes, and to maintain wildness. As long as a state’s wildlife regulations do not conflict with those goals, it is permitted to manage wildlife on federal lands.

However, for more than a decade the Alaska Board of Game has brazenly expanded and intensified its Intensive Management programs to manipulate wildlife populations on state land and on federal wildlife refuge lands. Methods commonly sanctioned by the state include bear-baiting; hunting wolves and their pups during denning season; and increasing seasons and harvest limits for predator species. (Subsistence and sport hunting on the refuges would be unaffected by the proposed change in regulations.)

The FWS manages 16 wildlife refuges in Alaska encompassing nearly 77 million acres (more than18 million acres designated as wilderness), including:
Arctic NWR (19 million acres)
Kodiak (1.9M)
Kenai (2M)
Yukon Flats (8M)

The state has initiated Intensive Management programs on at least a portion of the land in 13 of the refuges.

Additional information and the draft Environmental Assessment for the proposed rule can be found at: http://www.fws.gov/alaska/nwr/ak_nwr_pr.htm .  Click here to read the entire rule as published in the Federal Register (the Background section provides an interesting legislative history, including the mandates of the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act).
If enacted, these regulations will establish a strong precedent for protecting wildlife – which is the foundation and mandate of the national refuge system.

 

Talking Points: (Your message will have more impact if you put some or all of the following points into your own words. Your testimony need not be long!)

 

  • The US Fish and Wildlife Service should give final approval to its proposed regulation banning state predator control (Intensive Management) programs on wildlife refuges in Alaska. Such predator control is inconsistent with the federal mandate under which the wildlife refuge system was created: to conserve the natural and biological diversity, biological integrity, and environmental health on refuge lands.
  • As proposed by FWS, the following predator control methods should be banned:
– Bait stations that attract brown bears, where they are killed by hunters and trappers
– Killing bear cubs or sows with cubs
– Using traps or snares to kill bears
– Shooting bears from an aircraft on the same day as air travel has occurred (this method of killing wolves is already prohibited on wildlife refuges).
– Hunting wolves and coyotes during the spring and summer denning season when they are especially vulnerable.

 

  • Recommend that the final rule be expanded to include a prohibition on black bear bait stations. (The proposed rules would continue to allow using bait to hunt black bears; however, because in much of the state brown and black bears overlap in distribution, allowing any baiting activity would negate the prohibition on baiting for brown bears.)
  • Intensive Management utilizes inappropriate and unethical hunting practices that should not be allowed in wildlife refuges.
  • The FWS should adhere to its federally established mandate for Alaska’s refuges: “…(M)anagement to conserve species and habitats in their natural diversity and ensure that the biological integrity, diversity, and environmental health of the National Wildlife Refuge System are maintained for the continuing benefit of present and future generations of Americans.”
Please plan to attend one of the three open houses/public hearings and voice your strong support for the FWS’s proposed regulations. Hunters who want all of Alaska’s wildlife managed for their sole benefit will vehemently oppose this proposal. We need to stand strong with the FWS and say “No!” to predator control on wildlife refuges.

 

Thank you for speaking up for Alaska’s wildlife. We look forward to seeing you at one of the hearings.
 
Ed Schmitt, President

It’s time for Alaska to end extreme predator-control measures – Commentary, ADN 2/25/16

Alaska Dispatch news commentary by Fran Mauer, February 25, 2016

Alaska’s obsession with intensive game management abandons science for politics and puts the interests of the few over those of the interests of the many.

Our current fiscal crises will require a “no stone unturned” approach in meeting the challenge we face. Ripe for elimination is the “Intensive Management” (IM) program where the state Department of Fish and Game spends millions to kill wolves and bears trying to increase moose and caribou for hunters. Department reports to the Board of Game reveal outlandish expenditures. For example: during 2012-15, a total of $621,900 was spent to kill 49 wolves ($12,692/wolf) in the upper Koyukuk area; on the North Slope, a total of $349,900 was recently spent to kill seven brown bears at $49,986/bear. There are many similar examples. Statewide IM costs and related research during 2012-15 totaled $5,273,500. And this is an incomplete figure that does not include other administrative costs that are not reported, or the huge amount spent for predator-control research in the McGrath area over the past 15 years.

Predator control has a long and controversial history in Alaska. Over the years a few things have been learned that should be heeded. One is that in most of Alaska and adjacent northern Canada, moose populations that are subject to natural predation often exist at relatively low densities. This is normal. It has also been learned that control programs that remove a large proportion of wolves from an area can sometimes help prey populations increase. Predator control doesn’t always result in higher game populations; other factors such as snow conditions can prevent gains. It is clear, however, when control efforts stop, wolves often repopulate quite rapidly, and prey numbers again drop to natural levels.

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch News

 

Fall 2015 Echoes newsletter now online

Echoes- Fall 2015Click the image to enlargeClick here to download the issue in PDF.

Echoes- Fall 2015
Click the image to enlarge
Click here to download the issue in PDF.

In case you missed the hardcopy edition, you can now download and read the most recent AWA Echoes newsletter right here, as well as previous editions on our newsletter archive page.

Lead story: BOG Stubbornly Stonewalls Efforts To Stop Decline in Denali Wolves

The spring 2015 wolf count in Denali National Park revealed a sad but not unexpected situation: the population – just 48 wolves in the six million acre park – was the lowest number recorded since the National Park Service (NPS) beganthe counts nearly 30 years ago.

Tragically, at least two more wolves were killed since the count was completed in March.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) this year stubbornly rebuffed severalproposals by AWA and others to reinstate a long-sought no hunting/trapping bufferarea adjacent to the park.

The decline in Denali’s wolf numbers has been dramatic and consistent … Continue reading in the newsletter!