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

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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
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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