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AK: Lawsuit Seeks to Restore Protection for Wolves, Grizzly Bears on Alaska’s National Preserves

ANCHORAGE, Alaska— Thirteen groups filed a federal lawsuit today to restore Obama-era protections for Alaska’s wildlife on national preserves managed by the National Park Service.

The suit challenges a Park Service rule that greenlights killing grizzly bears over bait and with hounds. The rule would also allow hunters to kill bears and wolves, including cubs and pups, in their dens. Such predator-control activities, allowed under Alaska’s state hunting laws, are intended to artificially inflate prey populations, such as moose and caribou, for hunters to kill.

“It’s outrageous to target ecologically important animals like wolves and bears so that hunters may have more moose and caribou to kill,” said Collette Adkins, carnivore conservation director for the Center for Biological Diversity. “Not only are destructive predator control practices harmful and unsporting, they’re illegal when done on federal public lands set aside to protect biodiversity. I’m hopeful that the court will set things right again.”

With the new rule issued by the Interior Department in June, the Park Service reversed its longstanding position that Alaska officials may not implement sport-hunting regulations on national preserves that are designed to decimate predators. The agency’s new rule improperly clears the way for the state to allow activities like killing wolves during denning season in all national preserves in Alaska, including those in Denali and Wrangell-St. Elias.

Today’s lawsuit, filed in the federal district court in Anchorage, charges the Interior Department and National Park Service with violating the National Park Service’s Organic Act, the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

“Wolves and grizzlies, and the national preserves in Alaska where they live, are national treasures that deserve protections,” said Adkins.

The law firm Trustees for Alaska filed today’s lawsuit on behalf of 13 clients: Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Alaska Wilderness League, Alaskans for Wildlife, the Center for Biological Diversity, Coalition to Protect America’s National Parks, Copper Country Alliance, Defenders of Wildlife, Denali Citizens Council, The Humane Society of the United States, National Parks Conservation Association, Northern Alaska Environmental Center, Sierra Club and Wilderness Watch.