The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its Obama-appointed director have issued new regulations closing 77 million acres of land (an area larger than 45 of the country’s 50 states) in Alaska to state wildlife management, including predator control and other established means and methods of hunting.
The animal rights radicals at the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) have long pushed for these anti-hunting, anti-management rules and were the first to congratulate the administration and FWS for this illegal action. The blatant preemption of the State of Alaska’s rights to manage wildlife and set hunting rules on these millions of acres disregards more than 200 years of settled law, as well as recent Congressional enactments in 1980 and 1997.
The Sportsmen’s Alliance strongly opposed these rules and is working closely with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (AFWA), Alaska hunters and hunting guides, and the Alaska Congressional Delegation to block the Obama Administration from enforcing these new “HSUS rules.”
Since adoption of the U.S. Constitution, the states have had the primary authority to manage publicly owned fish and wildlife, including the authority to set hunting and fishing seasons and regulate the means and methods used to take fish and wildlife. And this state authority includes federal lands. It’s why we all buy our licenses from the states – not the feds. FWS has very limited rights to preempt this state authority and only when Congress provides it specific authority, as in the case of migratory birds (why we buy federal duck stamps) and endangered species.
Regarding these 77 million acres of Wildlife Refuge lands in Alaska, three times Congress has directed that the state – not FWS – has the primary authority to set hunting and fishing rules in Alaska: 1959 in the Alaska Statehood Act, 1980 in the Alaska Lands Act (that created most of the Alaska refuges) and 1997 in Refuge Improvement Act (which also made hunting and fishing priority public uses on all refuge lands). The Obama Administration is ignoring all of this law to make new rules for their buddies at HSUS and other anti-hunters.
Congress has signaled strongly its opposition to these illegal rules. At the strong urging of Alaska’s Congressional Delegation (Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R), Sen Dan Sullivan (R) and Rep. Don Young (R)), pending funding bills in the House and Senate bar FWS from spending any money to implement the rules. FWS has ignored these signals and proceeded with the HSUS rules. Furthermore, President Obama has threatened to veto these bills if they reach his desk and his Capitol Hill allies are blocking action on these measures.
The State of Alaska, Alaska hunters and guides, Alaska Natives, AFWA, and others including the Sportsmen’s Alliance are considering lawsuit options to stop the rules if Congress cannot undo them.
If President Obama and his HSUS pals get away with preempting Alaska’s wildlife authority and imposing anti-hunting/anti-wildlife management rules, you can bet other states – and federal lands – will be next.
About the Sportsmen’s Alliance: The Sportsmen’s Alliance protects and defends America’s wildlife conservation programs and the pursuits – hunting, fishing and trapping – that generate the money to pay for them. Sportsmen’s Alliance Foundation is responsible for public education, legal defense and research. Its mission is accomplished through several distinct programs coordinated to provide the most complete defense capability possible. Stay connected to Sportsmen’s Alliance: Online, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.