Category Archives: Wolves

Take Action for Alaska’s Wildlife! Public Comment Period Extended until Nov. 5th

We vigorously opposed unethical hunting methods on Alaska’s National Preserves in 2015, and won. Now, under orders from the Trump administration, the National Park Service has proposed a rule to undo that success and remove certain wildlife protections for bears, wolves, coyotes, and caribou.   

Department of the Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke directed the review – and proposed reversal – of the National Park Service’s 2015 rule which we fought so hard to support. Based on input from more than two dozen public hearings and over 70,000 public comments, support for the ban was overwhelming. Now we need your support again to maintain that rule to protect wildlife on preserve lands.

What is the proposed rule change?

On October 23, 2015, the National Park Service (NPS) published a final rule (Final Rule) to amend its regulations for sport hunting and trapping in national preserves in Alaska (80 FR 64325). The Final Rule codified prohibitions on certain types of harvest practices that are otherwise permitted by the State of Alaska’s hunting regulations found at 5 AAC Part 85.

The 2015 Final Rule banned the following practices on National Preserves in Alaska:

  • Taking any black bear, including cubs and sows with cubs, with artificial light at den sites;
  • Harvesting brown bears over bait;
  • Taking wolves and coyotes (including pups) during the denning season (between May 1 and August 9);
  • Taking swimming caribou;
  • Taking caribou from motorboats under power;
  • Taking black bears over bait;
  • Using dogs to hunt black bears.

The 2015 Final Rule prohibited these hunting practices because the NPS found those practices:

(1) To have intent or potential to alter or manipulate natural predator-prey dynamics, and associated natural ecological processes for the purpose of increasing harvest of ungulates by man;
(2) to adversely impact public safety; or
(3) to be inconsistent with federal law authorizing sport hunting in national preserves in Alaska.

In addition, NPS has broad discretion in managing wildlife on national preserves under applicable laws, policies, and regulations.

On September 15, 2017, Secretary Zinke signed Secretarial Order 3356 to overturn the 2015 rule and permit the killing practices listed above. If the rule change is passed, Alaska’s wildlife will suffer. We need your help. 

What can you do? 

The Department of Interior has extended the public comment period until November 5th for both the proposed rule change and the environmental assessment regarding sport hunting and trapping on National Preserves in Alaska. You can submit the same comment through both portals, doubling your impact.

Comment on the proposed rule change now!

Comment on the Environmental Assessment now!

Please note: There is no direct email address to submit comments. Comments are accepted only via the above link, or by hand or mail addressed to:

National Park Service
240 West 5th Ave.
Anchorage, AK 99501

For the proposed rule change: ATTN: Regional Director, Alaska Regional Office, RIN 1024-AE38
For the Environmental Assessment: ATTN: Sport Hunting and Trapping in National Preserves EA- Alaska Regional Office, EPC

What are some examples of effective comments?

“I urge you not to adopt the proposed rule regarding recreational hunting on Alaskan federal preserves. The existing National Park Service rule considered strong public input opposing the extreme hunting practices at issue. The National Park Services process rightly concluded these hunting practices have adverse impacts on public safety, are inconsistent with federal law and potentially alter natural predator-prey dynamics for the purpose of increasing sport harvests.

The Department of Interiors new proposed rule to abandon these protections for Alaskan wildlife on Alaskan federal preserves would sacrifice the health of publicly owned lands and wildlife populations for the benefit of a small group of extreme sport hunters.

I urge the Department of Interior not to finalize the proposed rule revoking regulations on hunting practices in Alaskan federal preserves, and to instead retain existing rules properly considering the interest of all Americans. Thank you for considering my comments.”

**********

“As one of 1.3 million members and supporters of the National Parks Conservation Association, I strongly oppose the National Park Service’s attempt to roll back 2015 clarifications of existing park authority to protect bears and wolves on Alaska national preserves. Extreme sport hunting methods, like brown bear baiting and killing hibernating black bear mothers and cubs in dens, don’t belong on national preserves in Alaska.

National parks and preserves in Alaska were set aside by Congress as special places where bears, wolves and other wildlife roam as part of a natural ecosystem. This is why I oppose the National Park Service’s proposal to allow extreme hunting practices.

I urge you to protect our last, best chance to make sure our children inherit a world with wild spaces and wildlife. Thank you.”

What makes a good comment?

When commenting on proposed Federal rulemaking actions, there are misconceptions that reduce the effectiveness of one’s submission.  To try and help you have the most effective impact when voicing your perspectives to a Federal agency during a public comment period, below we have provided some helpful tips and links.

It is not a popularity contest.

  • A form letter signed by thousands of people is often only considered as one comment. Consider submitting comments in your own words instead of, or addition to, signing form letters.
  • It doesn’t really matter how many people said they support or don’t support the proposed action, what matters is the extent of the substantive comments received during the public comment period.

Submit “substantive” comments.

  • According to the 2015 National Park Service’s NEPA Handbook, “substantive” comments:
    • question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the information in the document;
    • question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the environmental analysis;
    • present reasonable alternatives other than those presented in the document; or
    • cause changes or revisions in the proposal.
  • Any comments deemed “non-substantive” are in danger of not being included in any additional analyses, and thus will not influence a decision. They essentially may be dismissed.

Help them help you.

  • When crafting your comments, be respectful and try recognize the constraints of the agency’s authority and provide the tools and information necessary to for them to fight for your perspective.
  • When trying to influence the Federal rulemaking process, facts and data are your friend. Any evidence you can provide to support your statements are helpful.
  • When preparing your written comments, make sure your main points are easy to find and stand out, otherwise they may be missed if the reviewer only has time for a quick scan.

There are numerous resources available to help you understand the Federal rulemaking process and how to write more effective public comments.  Here are a couple we think are useful.

Protected Wolves in Alaska Face Peril From Beyond Their Preserve – NY Times, 7/14/17

By , in the New York Times

Within the 2.5 million acres of the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve in central Alaska, wolves and other majestic animals are protected. But animals like wolves do not respect lines drawn on a map. And a recent study suggests that efforts to limit populations of these predators outside those borders is having negative effects on wolves living within the preserve.

The study, published in June in Wildlife Monographs, suggests that when the Alaskan authorities were limiting wolf populations outside the Yukon-Charley preserve, survival rates of wolves within the preserve were lower than usual. The findings highlight the notion that managing wildlife within human-imposed boundaries requires communication and cooperation with the authorities beyond a preserve’s boundaries, and could have implications for wildlife management programs elsewhere.

Read the full article at the New York Times

Read the study itself here.

Alaska House Passes HB105 Denali Wolf Buffer Bill

From Alaska Dispatch, May 19th, 2017. Article by Nathaniel Hertz

“The state Legislature opened a new front this week in a long-running war between supporters and opponents of wolf trapping near Denali National Park and Preserve — with sportsman’s advocates on one side and proponents of tourism and conservation on the other.

In one of its last actions of the regular legislative session, the Alaska House voted 22-18 on Wednesday to pass a bill that protects wolves from trappers in two areas adjoining the park — a move aimed at giving visitors more chances to see the animals, though it’s opposed by the state Board of Game. It also faces long odds in the Senate…

…House Bill 105 would create a 530-square-mile buffer zone northeast of the park where wolf hunting and certain traps and snares are banned.”

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch

Read the press release from the bill’s sponsor, Rep Andy Josephson, here.

 

Alert: Two extraordinarily important bills need your comments this week 3/20/17

URGENT! Please support pending legislation to 1) dedicate seats on the Board of Game for non-consumptive users, and 2) stop wolf hunting and trapping adjacent to Denali National Park

House Bill 134, which would require at least one non-consumptive user and one tourism representative to be seated on the seven-member Board of Game, will come up for its first public hearing in the House Resources Committee this week. HB 105 (Denali wolf buffer area) is scheduled for a continued public hearing at the same time.

The teleconferenced public hearings on both bills are scheduled for:

Monday, March 20 and

Wednesday, March 22

both begin at 1:00 pm.

 

There are several ways to give input on HB 134 and HB 105:

  • At your local Legislative Information Office you may testify via teleconference. Locations are listed here. http://akleg.gov/lios.php LIO staff will help with the process, and you can also submit a written copy of your comments.
  • Call in to the hearing directly: (844) 586-9085. The wait time to speak will depend on how many others are calling in.

 

HB 134, which would mandate two non-consumptive members on the Board of Game, is critical to nearly every wildlife issue we face in Alaska.

We cannot over-emphasize the importance of everyone speaking up in support of this bill! If we do not support it, we cannot complain when the Board of Game continues its “business as usual” managing wildlife for hunters and trappers.

Introduced by Anchorage Rep. Andy Josephson, HB 134 states in part:

“In making board member appointments, the governor is directed to consider a diversity of interests and points of view. Unfortunately, past and present board appointments have favored consumptive interests and failed to include sufficient representation for non-consumptive interests.

Alaska’s wildlife is more than a hunting opportunity for many Alaskans and visitors. Wildlife viewing, photography, and scientific research carry value such that it is worth having non-consumptive interests represented on the Board of Game.”

Read the full bill here. http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=HB0134A

 

HB 105 would close an area on state land adjacent to the northeastern park boundary to hunting and trapping of wolves. (Read the full bill here:

http://www.akleg.gov/basis/Bill/Text/30?Hsid=HB0105A )

This area roughly overlaps the Wolf Townships/Stampede Corridor where we have been fighting for years to get a buffer approved by the Board of Game. (The most recent buffer proposal was unanimously defeated by the BOG in February.)

Note: The hearing times for HB 105 (Denali wolf buffer), are for those who have not previously testified on the bill. If you have already testified, it is not necessary to do so again.

Lawmakers need to hear loud and clear that we enthusiastically support these bills!

As co-chair of the House Resources Committee, Andy is in a position to (hopefully) champion these bills through that committee. If they advance to other committee(s) and the full House, their future is less certain. Nevertheless it is a great accomplishment and true progress that we can get these and other pending wildlife-related bills to public hearings. Please tell Andy that you support his efforts and his pending legislation. He is a dedicated supporter of wildlife and environmental issues – we owe him a huge “thank you”!

Again, it is imperative that we make our voices heard on these bills.

Thank you.

P.S. We apologize for the short notice; these hearings are scheduled by the legislature on short notice.

Board of Game bias isn’t based on science: ADN opinion, 3/13/17

Opinion from Alaska Dispatch News, by Bill Sherwonit

Read the original article here.

“Hiding behind science, the Alaska Board of Game continues to push an extreme agenda, one that is overwhelmingly biased toward hunters and trappers at the expense of our state’s wolves and bears, no matter the circumstances. And despite the fact that the board’s own “science” is sometimes suspect.

The most recent example of the Game Board’s narrow-minded — and, I would argue, regressive — approach to wildlife management came in Fairbanks, where in late February it unanimously rejected proposals to reinstate a no-kill wolf buffer on state lands that border Denali National Park…

…The Game Board repeatedly approved buffers of various sizes and shapes between 2000 and 2008, and some sort of zone providing additional protections to “Denali wolves” existed for a decade. And when the board voted to eliminate the buffer in 2010, it did so by the narrowest of margins, 4-3, a decision fueled not by science but anti-feds fervor.

Apparently, the reasoning and science that the board used in supporting a buffer the first decade of this century no longer applies.”

Read the rest of this article at Alaska Dispatch News