Washington (KINY) - U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, and Representative Mary Sattler Peltola, sent a letter to Interior Secretary Deb Haaland last week urging her to withdraw the National Park Service’s (NPS) proposed rule, released in January, with new restrictions on hunting and trapping in National Preserves in Alaska.
The Alaska congressional delegation argues that the rule, put forward without any consultation with the State of Alaska, is unsupported by scientific data and violates the clear intent of Congress in the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).
The delegation also cited the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision, Sturgeon v. Frost, which “unanimously affirmed Alaska’s right to manage its fish and wildlife.”
“NPS holds only the legal and statutory authority granted by Congress,” members of the delegation wrote. “Any attempt to move forward with the 2023 Proposed Rule would disregard congressional intent; confuse hunters, trappers, and anglers about the rules in national preserves; and significantly reduce the State’s lawful ability to manage healthy, effective, sustainable wildlife populations for all Alaskans, especially subsistence users.”
In 2017, Congress rejected a similar U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) rule, passing a resolution of disapproval under the Congressional Review Act to overturn the August 2016 USFWS rule that usurped the state’s authority to manage fish and wildlife on federal refuge lands in Alaska.
“Congress’ intent on this issue is unambiguous,” the delegation added. “In 2016, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) promulgated its own ‘Statewide Refuge Rule,’ which was nearly identical to NPS’s 2015 Rule in prohibiting specific hunting practices allowed by State law. Congress responded by enacting a disapproval resolution under the Congressional Review Act to nullify the Statewide Refuge Rule. Therefore, today’s ‘methods and means’ of hunting on Refuges in Alaska are governed by state law. Given that NPS’s 2023 Proposed Rule is substantively identical to the 2015 Rule, and Congress has rejected the alleged ‘legal mandate’ that underlies its reimposition, NPS is obligated to abandon this effort and comply with ANILCA’s clear terms.”
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