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Bad News, Bears: Obama-Era Rule on Hunting Reversed

New rule to allow bear baiting, spotlights for shooting in dens called 'unethical' by critics
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 23, 2018 9:35 AM CDT
A black bear wanders through blueberry thickets in Juneau, Alaska, in October 2017.   (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)

(Newser) – The Trump administration is looking to dismantle Obama-era rules that made it more difficult to hunt on federal lands, including through the banning of bacon, honey, and doughnuts as bear bait. The 2015 rule also barred the use of dogs to hunt bears, spotlights to shoot bear cubs in dens, motorboats to hunt swimming caribou, and trapping of gray wolves and pups during the denning season, report Reuters and CNN. The Alaska Professional Hunters Association argues "this was a case of the federal government overstepping and trying to usurp the state's authority to manage its wildlife," per the BBC. And the National Park Service apparently agrees, proposing Monday to reinstate the "harvest practices that are otherwise permitted by the State of Alaska" after an environmental assessment is carried out.

While the public has until July 23 to comment on the proposal, environmentalists are already voicing their opposition. It's "outrageous" that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke—who keeps a taxidermied bear in his office, per NBC News—has directed a "return to these shameful and unethical practices," the National Parks Conservation Association says. A lawyer for the Humane Society even argues the "misguided attempt to increase trophy hunting opportunities" is unlawful, NBC notes. Use of bear bait was first allowed in Alaska in 2005 in an effort to boost populations of prey animals, like moose. The NPS under the Obama administration considered the method unsafe and at odds with a natural predator-prey dynamic. Under the new plan, Alaska's Department of Fish and Game would decide which hunting methods to permit, per Reuters. (Read more Alaska stories.)

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