Another Obama-era regulation might just be on its way out, if the Trump administration has anything to say about it. And this decision may be one of the more aggressive anti-wildlife measures that the administration has pushed so far. A Trump administration hunting law reversal currently in the works includes a series of proposed changes to the rules surrounding sport hunting and trapping on public lands in Alaska. These new changes seek to give hunters more license to kill wild animals, even via controversial means.
For example, should the proposed changes pass, hunters will soon be able to kill wolves and their pups inside of their dens, as well as lure bears into traps with human food such as bacon and doughnuts. According to CBS News, these hunting methods (along with similar methods, such as using motorboats to shoot caribou and hunting black bears with dogs) were banned from use on federal lands in 2015.
These practices were outlawed for a simple reason: Scientists and conservationists alike deemed them both unnecessarily cruel and a potential threat toward the future conservation of these wild animals. But the new proposed changes, which were published by the National Park Service in The Federal Register, are consistent with the order by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke to make efforts to expand recreational hunting.
The notice in the Federal Register read, "The purpose of this proposed rule is to align sport hunting regulations in national preserves in Alaska with State of Alaska regulations and to enhance consistency with harvest regulations on surrounding non-federal lands and waters in furtherance of Secretarial Orders 3347 and 3356."
As you can probably imagine, environmental groups are totally appalled at President Trump's latest measure working to strip away environmental protections from both wild animals and the environments they live in. Jamie Rappaport Clark, the president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, a nonprofit dedicated to defending wildlife and natural habitats, told Huffington Post that this latest proposal represents a new low by the Trump administration in defending and protecting wildlife.
“Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane," Clark said. "The proposed regulations cast aside the very purpose of national parks to protect wildlife and wild places.”
But in an emailed statement to Huffington Post, the Park Service explained that these new proposed changes are simply an attempt to maintain consistency with state laws. More specifically, it's referring to the state laws of Alaska. Alaska has, in the past, pushed for more aggressive measures for hunting in certain areas of the state, arguing that the effects of hunting are "negligible" regardless, The Washington Post reports.
Should these proposed changes be accepted, hunters will now be able to hunt and bait bears from their dens during their own hibernation, among other aggressive hunting strategies. Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, had this to say about the proposed changes, via The Washington Post: "The Trump administration’s decision to roll back these sensible animal protections is outrageous. ... Without wildlife, our national preserves are just scenery. These practices have no place on our public lands and in our society.”
Of course, this is not the first time that the Trump Administration has moved to empower sport hunting at the expense of wildlife and preservation efforts. In March, President Trump lifted a previous ban on elephant and lion trophy-hunting, which had been in place to prevent hunters from importing trophies from Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Ironically enough, though, that ban might have been met with less opposition than this one, as Richard Parsons, chief executive of Safari Club International, explained via The New York Times that trophy hunting has an empowering effect on conservation efforts in South Africa, largely due to the money that it brings in via tourism.
“As much as some people have a distaste for hunting," he explained, "in southern Africa it actually works and is very positive for wildlife conservation.”
As for the proposed changes for hunting in the United States, conservationists are skeptical that any good could come from it.
To Anna Frostic, a lawyer for the Humane Society of the United States, this issue is a no brainer. In conversation with Huffington Post, she said plainly, "This proposed rule, which would allow inhumane killing of our native carnivores in a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities, is unlawful and must not be finalized."