Alaska in Brief

Alaska Legislature votes to oppose National Park Service hunting rule that forbids bear baiting

By: - March 28, 2023 6:05 pm

Rep. Will Stapp, R-Fairbanks, listens as Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, speaks on March 20, 2023, on the floor of the Alaska House. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Legislature has voted to oppose a new National Park Service rule that could limit some forms of hunting in federal parks and preserves. 

The Alaska Senate approved House Joint Resolution 10 in an 18-2 vote on Monday, an act that finalizes the nonbinding letter of opposition. The Alaska House previously voted 31-5 to approve the resolution.

In January, the park service proposed a new rule reversing a Trump-era regulation that permitted bear baiting, relaxed rules for urban hunters to pursue game in parks and preserves and allowed the state to more freely conduct predator-hunting programs intended to boost game-animal populations.

The rules introduced by the Trump administration were in line with state law and overturned Obama-era regulations approved in 2015.

The park service’s new rules would mark a return to the system used by the Obama administration.

Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, is the prime sponsor of the resolution and urged lawmakers to oppose the new rule, saying it would erode Alaska’s sovereign ability to manage its fish and game.

“No matter how opinions may differ on management practices, there should be no disagreement about our state’s right to manage fish and wildlife,” he said in a sponsor statement.

Alaska’s congressional delegation also has opposed the new rule, as have sport-hunting groups such as Safari Club International.

Senate Majority Leader Cathy Giessel, R-Anchorage, spoke in favor of the resolution on the Senate floor, saying the new rule “nullifies Alaska’s wildlife management” and is “counter to the Alaska Statehood Act.”

Opposition has mostly come from conservation groups, which say the new rules will prohibit “inhumane” hunting activities, such as killing wolf pups in their dens. 

The Legislature’s resolution came on the final day of a public comment period about the new rules, which are not finalized. A final rule is expected later this year from the National Park Service.

Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang said in January that if the park service proceeds with the rule, the state could pursue litigation to block it.


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James Brooks
James Brooks

James Brooks is a longtime Alaska reporter, having previously worked at the Anchorage Daily News, Juneau Empire, Kodiak Mirror and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. A graduate of Virginia Tech, he is married to Caitlyn Ellis, owns a house in Juneau and has a small sled dog named Barley. He can be contacted at [email protected]