null Skip to Main Content
Park Service to Ban Bear Baiting in Alaska Preserves

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Park Service to Ban Bear Baiting in Alaska Preserves

Posted 2024-07-10  by  Stephanie Mallory

The controversial new rule will go into effect later this summer thanks to a U.S. District Court decision from 2022

Image: ak_black_bear

The new bear-baiting rule is designed to curb negative interactions between humans and bears. (Photo provided by Bill K.)

The National Park Service has issued a new rule that will once again ban hunters from baiting bears in Alaska’s national preserves. In a recent statement, the federal agency said baiting “encourages bears to become conditioned to human-provided food, increasing the likelihood of negative human-bear interactions.”

Brian Lynn, vice president of communications and marketing for the Sportsmen’s Alliance, said that in 2020, animal welfare groups sued over a Trump administration-era rule that allowed certain hunting practices authorized by the state to take place on federally run national preserves. Those practices included using bait and dogs to hunt black bears. Pro-hunting organizations and animal rights groups have been involved in intense debate and litigation over the issue since.

AP News reports that in 2022, U.S. District Court Judge Sharon Gleason found parts of the Trump-era plan were “arbitrary and capricious because NPS disregarded without explanation its conclusion in 2015 that State regulations fail to adequately address public safety concerns associated with bear baiting.”

After Gleason sent the rule back to the agency for further work, the park service said the new rule addresses concerns she’d raised. As part of the new rule, the park service said it is focusing on bear baiting and not addressing the other hunting practices at this time.

Lynn said the idea that bait conditions bears to human food is just propaganda pushed by animal-rights organizations that know little to nothing about bears or bear hunting. “This is a case the Sportsmen’s Alliance has been fighting for years. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court didn’t pick up our case last year after the Ninth Circuit ruled against us, so right now, the feds have control of wildlife management decisions on those lands,” Lynn said.

He said at issue is who controls federal lands within a state’s border. The federal government owns the lands, but traditionally the game and fish found on those lands was managed by the states in accordance with state game laws. Outside of endangered species and migratory birds, the feds don’t manage wildlife.

“This really upends management and directly interjects whoever sits in the White House into wildlife management,” Lynn said. “Since the Obama administration, and now Biden administration (Trump reversed it), the federal government has been trying to take more control of these federal lands, and if they can do it in Alaska, where it’s written into several agreements, including their statehood act and other official agreements, then they can control these lands in the Lower 48 where those protections don’t exist. For hunters, anglers, guides, etc., this means we could see flipflopping rules and goals depending on which party is in office.”

Exit off-canvas