Grijalva Questions Republican Attack on Science as Majority Preps Vote to Kill Bear Cubs, Wolf Pups in Alaska Natl. Wildlife Refuges

Washington, D.C. – Ahead of today’s House vote to repeal a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) rule that prohibits the slaughter of Alaskan wolf and bear populations on National Wildlife Refuges using methods widely recognized as inhumane and unsportsmanlike by hunters and the general public, Ranking Member Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) questioned why Republicans have made the effort such a high priority. He called on Speaker Paul Ryan to cancel the vote and focus on legislation that improves the lives of American workers and families and recognizes the value of U.S. public lands.

House Joint Resolution 69, introduced by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), is backed by unscientific and legally dubious arguments and would give the state of Alaska a veto over federal rules that protect the national interest in federal wildlife refuges. Grijalva highlighted a National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report that made recommendations for Alaska to develop a scientifically defensible predator control program – recommendations the state has largely ignored over the past 20 years even as it ramps up its increasingly aggressive “intensive management” strategy to artificially inflate populations of moose and caribou prized by trophy hunters.

On Monday Rep. Young dismissed the NAS report, authored by academic and Alaska Native wildlife and biology experts, as “made by those who do not like any taking of any game anyhow.” You can see a video of Rep. Young testifying before the House Rules Committee – where he also accused Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) of “believing in breaking the law” because of Rep. Polis’ support for legally sound federal wildlife management standards – at http://bit.ly/2llI99s.

Today’s vote will likely repeal a FWS rule – formally designated the Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, Public Participation, and Closure Procedures on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska Final Rule – that prohibits the use of certain killing methods within national wildlife refuges. Prohibited actions include killing bear cubs or their mothers when cubs are present, except in very specific circumstances in accordance with state regulations; killing brown bears by baiting them or using traps or snares; killing wolves or coyotes from May 1 – August 9 (denning season) by any means; and killing bears from an aircraft or on the same day as air travel has occurred. Same-day airborne killing of wolves was already prohibited by refuge regulations.

In their ongoing attempt to weaken FWS’ ability to manage wildlife on refuge lands in Alaska, Republicans have argued without evidence that bear and wolf populations in certain federally protected areas are killing an unsustainable number of moose and caribou to the detriment of the Alaska hunting and subsistence economy. Scientists, including a wolf and moose biologist who has served on the Alaska Board of Game, say that such assertions are simply untrue and that Alaska’s intensive game management is not working.

“Shooting bear cubs from a helicopter and gassing wolf pups in their dens is not fair chase hunting and is not a scientifically sound wildlife management strategy,” Grijalva said. “This resolution shouldn’t be Congress’ top priority, today or any other day. Instead of giving away control of our public lands to states and private interests and making it easier to slaughter wildlife, why don’t we spend a few hours addressing real issues like climate change, fair worker pay and our crumbling national infrastructure?”

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