(EnviroNews Nature) — Playground, a news and media site, has produced a graphic video showing shocking hunting practices that are now legal in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. These methods, which have been called “scientifically indefensible” and “unsportsmanlike” by defenders of animal rights, include hunting bears from aircraft, killing bear cubs or sows with cubs, killing wolves and pups, and taking bears with traps and snares, among other practices.
The methods were made legal April 3, 2017, when President Donald J. Trump signed House Joint Resolution 69 (HJR 69) into law and rescinded protections for these iconic predators, which were established under the Alaska National Wildlife Refuges Rule (Refuge Rule).
Playground’s video gives viewers a rare inside snapshot of several of the aforementioned controversial hunting methods for killing bears, wolves, pups and cubs. Hunters are also shown celebrating their kills, as text in the video calls Trump out for donating his salary check to the National Park Service while bringing “rifles to the mouths of dens.” Environmentalists called Trump’s donation a “publicity stunt” and Mother Jones pointed out it only equals about .005 percent of the amount he cut from the U.S. Department of Interior’s (Interior) budget.
The Refuge Rule was put in place in 2016 to protect refuge carnivores from Alaska’s 1994 predator control law or “Intensive Management Law” (IM). The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) explains that in recent years, before the Refuge Rule was instated, the Alaska Board of Game (BOG) “authorized measures under its general hunting and trapping regulations that potentially increase the take of predators to a degree that disrupts natural processes and wildlife interactions,” including the controversial methods listed above.
Be warned: The video by Playground below contains graphic hunting footage:
As previously reported by EnviroNews Alaska, the State of Alaska filed suit against the federal government to overturn the Refuge Rule in January 2017. Alaska Gov. Bill Walker and Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who introduced HJR 69, assert the bill protects the state’s rights to manage its own lands and resources.
In contrast, Alli Harvey, Alaska Representative with the Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign, said HJR 69 “undermines science-based wildlife management and the basic premise of public lands as places for wildlife conservation.” The Humane Society of the United States points out that a majority of Alaskans polled in January opposed these “cruel” practices. Now that the Refuge Rule has been rescinded with Trump’s signing of HJR 69, Alaska’s predators will no longer receive these protections and hunting of predators under IM standards will again be legal.
The advocacy group Mercy for Animals chimed in with its disdain for HJR 69 as well, in a Tweet featuring two bears cubs, of which the first says to the other in a caption, “Trump just passed a law to kill us in our sleep” — to which the second cub replies, “On what planet does that make America great again?”
#Trump Senate voted 52-47 to murder Hibernating Bears
They call it "Non-Subsistence Taking"
— ANIMAL ADVOCATE Ⓥ (@_AnimalAdvocate) March 27, 2017
The Center for Biological Diversity (the Center) filed a lawsuit in April 2017 against the Interior after Trump signed HJR 69 into law earlier this month. The suit questioned the constitutional validity of HJR 69, a Congressional Review Act (CRA). The CRA enables Congress to quickly invalidate federal regulations implemented within a 60-legislative-day timeframe, including those adopted under the previous administration. Previously, the CRA has only been used once to successfully overturn a rule, in 2001. Thus far, the 115th Congress has sent 13 CRA resolutions to Trump’s desk – all of which he has signed.
CRA resolutions also constrain agencies from passing similar rules in the future, leaving only Congress with the power to do so. The Center alleges this violates the separation of powers laws central to the U.S. government. The Center also created its own video about HJR 69 and the majesty of Alaska’s wildlife.
READ MORE: ENVIRONEWS IN-DEPTH COVERAGE ON HJR 69