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AK: Predator reg debate veers from ‘puppy killing’ to ‘bull poop’

By Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media

Republicans in the U.S. House are trying to roll back some of the environmental rules of the Obama Administration, and today they turned their attention to a regulation that applies only in Alaska. The rule prohibits several methods of hunting predators in National Wildlife Refuges in the state. Amid talk of “puppy killing,” Alaska Congressman Don Young argued it’s up to the state to manage wildlife populations.

In a Rules Committee hearing, Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., cast himself as the defender of the Obama wildlife rule, and he painted the bill to repeal it in emotional terms.

“This bill should really be called ‘the puppy killing act,’” Polis said. “What it does is allows inhumane methods and cruel methods, like killing wolf pups and their mothers, in and near their dens.”

And, Polis said, the repeal bill would open the door to shooting brown bears over bait and other practices he characterizes as inhumane. Young disagrees with that assessment.

“That’s the most bunch of bull poop I’ve ever heard,” Young declared.

The Obama–era rule bans predator hunting practices that aren’t broadly allowed in Alaska anyway, but the state Game Board said they’re tools that can be deployed, when needed, to restore a balance between predator and prey species. Young said such decisions should be up to the state.

“We have to recognize this is not about the little polar bears and the little grizzly bears and the wolves that you’re seeing on television,” Young said. “This is about the state’s right to manage(wildlife). Not allowing the federal government to do it.”

Young also seemed to scold those who hold a romantic view of predators.

“One year, on my trapline, the wolves killed 17 moose. Cows. With babies. Ate nothing but the noses and the fetus out of the belly,” Young said. “That’s your wolf.”

(Young’s spokesman said Young ran a trapline for about eight years along the Black River, before he became a state legislator in 1967.)

Supporters of the Fish and Wildlife Service rule say the feds can’t always defer to state hunting policies if they conflict with mandates in federal law, like their obligation to manage for biological diversity.

The repeal measure now goes to the House floor. It is one of several attempts to use the Congressional Review Act to erase regulations the Obama Administration imposed in its final months. The State of Alaska is also challenging the rule in federal court.

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