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National Parks Group, former Governor Knowles Advocate Preserving Bear Populations to Alaska Game Board

Anchorage, AK — Calling for an end to objectionable hunting methods currently authorized by the state of Alaska, the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) today testified on behalf of seven proposed regulation changes to the Alaska Board of Game.  Backed by letters from nearly 1,700 NPCA supporters in Alaska and throughout the northwestern United States, regulations against bear baiting, snaring, spotlighting and shooting bear cubs in national preserves, among other issues, were presented.

“In its desire to increase the numbers of moose and caribou for sportsman to hunt, the state has declared a quiet war on Alaska’s bears including those living in Alaska’s national preserves,” said NPCA Alaska Regional Director Jim Stratton. “It is time to put an end to this madness and ensure these animals are protected for the enjoyment of our kids and grandkids.”

The most egregious method currently allowed by the Board is referred to as spotlighting.  “Imagine crawling into a bear den to shoot a hibernating Yogi or Smokey taking his winter’s nap.  It’s legal in Alaska,” said Stratton.  “And with the availability of heat-seeking devices, it’s far too easy to find bear dens.”

The Board also currently authorizes killing cubs and sows with cubs and the selling of bear parts. Snaring is another objectionable method currently allowed in national preserves and statewide.

Addressing the snaring issue at the Board meeting, former Alaska Governor Tony Knowles stated that the policy of bear snaring is not hunting but a killing method that indiscriminately kills both black and Grizzly bears, including females with cubs, older cubs, and females. Knowles testified that he "joins the unprecedented number of Alaskan scientists and wildlife managers with over 1,000 years of combined bear management experience who have stated that bear snaring is unscientific, unethical, and incompatible with the principles of modern wildlife management."

The National Park Service (NPS) regularly identifies state hunting regulations that conflict with how it manages wildlife, and submits requests for the Board of Game to either change the rules or exempt NPS lands.  Since 2000, NPCA has documented more than 50 times where the state has rejected reasonable requests and adopted hunting regulations that conflict with the NPS wildlife management mandate, which provides for natural and healthy wildlife populations on Park Service lands.

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