This past Tuesday, the Trump Administration repealed a 2015 policy set by President Obama regarding hunting practices in Alaska. Essentially, the policy prohibited cruel tactics of capturing game in the frigid Northern state – specifically, according to the legislation itself, the practices banned included using artificial light to blind bears, baiting bears with goods, hunting wolves and bears during denning/hibernation season, and using dogs to hunt down bears. However, with the latest changes made by the president, Alaskan hunters can now legally use extremely brutal hunting tactics, such as invading wolf dens regardless of the season and slaughtering wolf mothers and cubs, as well as luring bears out of their habitats with donuts and bacon and then viciously slaying them. So if this move by the Trump administration was so unfavorable, and, upon first glance, appalling, why exactly was it passed?
Throughout his reign as president, the Trump administration has been inclined to favor hunting rights over animal/environmental welfare and ethics. Just recently, in March of 2020, they appointed Anna Seidman as the assistant director of the Fish and Wildlife Service’s assistant director of the International Affairs Program – there are a couple of harrowing issues with this: first, throughout her professional career, Seidman has advocated in favor of trophy hunting (hunting for recreation) and has consistently argued for increased rights for Alaskan hunters in wildlife areas as opposed to protection of wildlife species – the fact that Seidman supports recreational hunting and immoral increases in privileges for hunters itself is contradictory with regards to her role on the Fish and Wildlife Service, which manages and protects fish and other endangered species; furthermore, Seidman herself has directly opposed the Fish and Wildlife Service and even attempted to sue the federal agency. Another example of the Trump administration clearly valuing human benefit over the environment and animal welfare was apparent in April of 2019, when he attempted to open up millions of acres of Arctic wildlife refuge to drilling of oil and other natural resources. As for the justification behind this recent policy, the only valid argument that has been put forth by the administration and the supporters of the policy (namely Alaskan hunters) is that it is rightfully granting hunters rights that they deserve. As Eddie Grasser, director of wildlife management for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, explained, “From our perspective, the Park Service was infringing on our territory”. He justified the unethical nature of Trump’s policy by stating, “Those practices [brutal hunting tactics] are used by only a small number of people in a few places”. Likewise, Alaskan Senator Dan Sullivan contended that the Obama administration was simply permitting an “attack on our unique game management authority”. All in all, it is quite clear that these stated benefits of Trump’s new policy simply do not outweigh the unethical repercussions that will inevitably come with the tolerance of cruel hunting tactics.
Predictably, the response to repealing Obama’s 2015 rule was heavily critical. While scientists have constantly opposed removing protective wildlife regulations, Theresa Pierno, president and chief executive of the National Parks Conservation Association, exclaimed, “We have never opposed hunting, but this can hardly be considered hunting. To be going into dens of hibernating bears and killing cubs and killing moms certainly is, I don’t think, the picture most people have of hunting.” Additionally, amie Rappaport Clark, president of Defenders of Wildlife, stated, “The Trump administration has shockingly reached a new low in its treatment of wildlife. Allowing the killing of bear cubs and wolf pups in their dens is barbaric and inhumane. The proposed regulations cast aside a primary purpose of national preserves to conserve wildlife and wild places.”
Ultimately, based on the immoral nature of Trump’s repeal coupled with the arguments critical of the president’s policy, it appears that the policy is truly unjust, as it favors a few Alaskan hunters in exchange for the imminent, brutal murders of many innocent wildlife species.
Shortly, the Trump administration is expected to remove similar hunting restrictions in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.