Trump rule changes will allow Alaskan hunters to kill bear cubs, wolf pups in their dens

Hunters will be able to lure bears with food, draw them from their dens with artificial light and shoot caribou while they are swimming or from motorboats. 

The ‘amazingly cruel’ move by the National Park Service reverses Obama-era regulations which also affect wolves and coyotes.

Federal agencies are loosening restrictions on hunting bears, wolves and their offspring in their dens, a decision that is being condemned by conservation groups. 

The National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued new guidance to permit more hunting and trapping in multiple wildlife preserves throughout the state. 

Among the slew of new rules includes hunting black bears, wolves and coyotes, as well as their cubs and pups, in their dens, caribou from motorboats and bears with bait at several national preserves. It also permits brown bear hunting from "registered bait stations" in Alaska's Kenai National Wildlife Refuge for the first time. 

Both agencies issued separate statements saying the decision allows federal law to better align with state law, per the Anchorage Daily News, who first obtained the federal statements. The decision also rolls back Obama-era restrictions on hunting and trapping in Alaska's national preserves.

Conservation groups argue that the decision grants hunters permission to use cruel tactics in hunting. 

“The Trump administration has shockingly reached a new low in its treatment of wildlife,” Defenders of Wildlife President Jamie Rappaport Clark said. “Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane.”

"It takes no skill or cunning to lure bears with donuts and shoot caribou from motorboats," said Ben Williamson, the program director at World Animal Protection US. "The killing of animals for enjoyment or sport not only causes mass suffering to wildlife, but it threatens whole ecosystems and wildlife habitats." 

Meanwhile, hunting organizations and a consortium of tribes in the Alaskan interior argue that the rollbacks support both subsistence and sport hunters.

"The previous limitations enacted in 2015 threatened our way of life and our centuries-long sustainable management practices,” said Victor Joseph, chair of the Tanana Chiefs Conference which represents 42 tribes in the Alaska interior, in a statement.

Joshua Bote