Today the Refuge Association has joined more than a dozen conservation organizations as interveners in two lawsuits to defend the Department of Interior (DOI) and its U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and National Park Service (NPS) rules regarding predator control on Alaskan national wildlife refuges and national preserves.
On August 3, 2016, the FWS finalized a rule prohibiting aggressive predator control practices on Alaskan national wildlife refuges, including aerial gunning of wolves, take of brown bears over bait, and take of wolves and pups in their dens. The FWS rule codifies how national wildlife refuges have been managed in Alaska for years and does not affect subsistence hunting. The NPS finalized a similar rule for Alaskan national preserves almost a year earlier in October 2015.
The State of Alaska wishes to increase the population of popular game species like moose and caribou on refuge lands by reducing the population of predator species. This process of artificially inflating game species’ populations by killing off predators is known as “predator control.”
The Refuge Association recognizes the importance of and strongly supports hunting and trapping by individuals on Alaskan national wildlife refuges. However, the State’s preferred predator control management strategy conflicts with the mission of the FWS to manage for natural biodiversity on national wildlife refuges.
The State of Alaska and Safari Club have filed lawsuits against the DOI and its FWS and NPS in an effort to overturn the two rules. While the Refuge Association works closely with the State and Safari Club on other refuge issues, on this topic we disagree. In response, the Refuge Association has joined as an intervener in the lawsuits to demonstrate our unflinching support of America’s National Wildlife Refuge System and to uphold America’s conservation legacy.