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Trump's Latest Obama Era Rollback Has Animal Rights and Environmental Groups Up In Arms

Can you even call that hunting?

Trump's Latest Obama Era Rollback Has Animal Rights and Environmental Groups Up In Arms
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 18: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at the East Room of the White House May 18, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The Trump administration, in a proposed regulation published online yesterday, seeks to lift National Park Service hunting restrictions established during the Obama administration to allow hunters to kill black bears and wolves in national preserves in Alaska.

The proposal would allow hunters to lure brown and black bears with bait, use dogs to hunt black bears, shoot bear cubs and wolf and coyote pups in their dens, hunt black bears and their cubs using artificial lights, and even shoot swimming caribou from motorboats.

The park service says removing restrictions would promote hunting and trapping activities as well as "establish consistency" with federal and state regulations. A 60-day public comment period begins today.

Environmental groups savaged the proposal almost immediately.

Collette Adkins, a lawyer and biologist at the Center for Biological Diversity, says she is "outraged":

I’m outraged that [President Donald] Trump and his trophy-hunting cronies are promoting the senseless slaughter of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife. Cruel and harmful hunting methods like killing bear cubs and their mothers near dens have no place on our national preserves.

Jamie Rappaport Clark, the president and CEO of Defenders of Wildlife, said the Obama-era rule prevented “extreme methods of killing predators":

The Trump administration has somehow reached a new low in protecting wildlife. Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane. The proposed regulations cast aside the very purpose of national parks to protect wildlife and wild places.

The Humane Society of the United States called the proposal “a misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities.”

More criticism quickly flowed in via social media.

Wilderness Watch urged their followers to write the Trump administration to express disapproval.

The group also assailed Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. Zinke "has made it his mission to destroy America's Wilderness," the group wrote.

Average citizens also weighed in.

In 2015, the park service, one report notes, "said that certain hunting practices mess with predator-prey dynamics and upset the balance for harvest purposes, while causing problems for public safety."

The state disputed that assessment, the park service said.

The State also maintains that any effects to the natural abundances, diversities, distributions, densities, age-class distributions, populations, habitats, genetics, and behaviors of wildlife from implementing its regulations are likely negligible.

Two orders issued by Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last year provided the legal basis for reversing the Obama administration's decisions.

The first, Order 3347, "urged expanded access to hunting and fishing on public lands and better consultation with state wildlife management."

The second, Order 3356,

instructs the park service to find more opportunities for hunting on public lands, work with state wildlife agencies to ensure regulations on federal land match those on nearby lands, and change regulations to 'advance shared wildlife conservation goals/objectives that align predator management programs, seasons, and methods of take' to match state wildlife agencies.

The proposal comes over a year after Congress approved legislation to repeal an Obama-era rule that protected wolves and bears on Alaska wildlife refuges.

Although the rule deals specifically with non-subsistence predator control, that did not stop Senator Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), who characterized the rule as an example of federal overreach, from speaking about Alaska's subsistence hunting and fishing.

“You might prefer your meat wrapped in cellophane at the grocery store. That’s fine,” he said at the time. “But I ask that you don’t criticize the thousands of Alaskans who have to hunt for their food and who value hunting as a deep part of their culture.”