On August 5, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) finalized regulations that will severely restrict the State of Alaska’s ability to manage wildlife on National Wildlife Refuges in the state, justifying the concerns expressed by the sportsmen’s community and state fish and wildlife agencies over the past several months. Entitled Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska, the rule represents a threat to our nation’s unrivaled system of state-based fish and wildlife conservation and stands in direct conflict with Alaska’s constitutional mandate to carry out management of game and non-game fish and wildlife under the principles of sustained yield.
Throughout the public process associated with development of the FWS policy, sportsmen, states and Members of the Alaska Congressional Delegation raised concerns that the rule:
Prior to issuance of the final rule, the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council, a federal advisory committee tasked with advising the Secretary of Interior on wildlife and habitat and conservation and hunting issues, encouraged FWS Director Dan Ashe to seek out cooperative solutions that are mutually acceptable to both the State of Alaska and the FWS prior to finalizing the rule. Unfortunately, this did not occur.
In response to issuance of the final rule, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies expressed their disappointment in the context of the long and successful history of working in partnership with the FWS to deliver on-the-ground fish and wildlife conservation, stating:
“The Association is particularly disappointed that the USFWS issued a Final Rule when it and other conservation organizations, including the Wildlife and Hunting Heritage Conservation Council (a Federal Advisory Committee) as well as the State of Alaska, recommended continuing dialogue between the Alaska Game and Fish Department and the USFWS, to achieve a mutually satisfactory resolution of the authorities’ issue. Instead, we are left with heightened state-federal tension in managing Alaska’s fish and wildlife resources both for her citizens and the citizens of the United States. We believe the recommendation for further dialogue to negotiate agreement between the State of Alaska and USFWS is reasonable and prudent and better assures consistency with applicable federal and state laws.”
Click here to view comments submitted by American Wildlife Conservation Partners on the proposed rule.
Click here to view CSF’s comments on the proposed rule.
Studies conducted at both the state and federal level have found that the number of hunters and trappers have been on a generally declining trend over the past several decades. To increase recruitment, retention, and reactivation (R3) of hunters and trappers, which initiative do you think would have the greatest impact?