There was a complex case of Federal overreach in the last month, in which the US Fish and Wildlife Service seized control of 77 Million acres of Alaska to gain Federal control over Alaskan wildlife. The president of the Sportsmen’s Alliance, Evan Heusinkveld, said, “We’re talking about an area larger than 45 of our 50 states”.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and its appointed director, Dan Ashe, have issued new regulations closing 77 million acres of land in Alaska to state wildlife management, including effective predator control and other established means and methods of hunting and trapping.
Historically, control of the wildlife in every state has been left to the states; we buy our hunting and fishing licenses from our state, not the Fed.gov. It’s a recognition that the wildlife doesn’t belong to landowners, it belongs to the people closest to it, the state. In this case, when Alaska was granted statehood in 1959, they were guaranteed ownership and control of game populations by Congress. No other state is more legally entitled to manage its game populations, including on federal lands within its border, than Alaska.
It is spelled out in multiple laws and agreements, and was debated three times by Congress, ultimately resulting in giving Alaska precedence, including:
the Alaska Statehood Act (1959),
the Alaska Lands Act (1980) which created most of the 77-million-acres of refuges at the center of this unprecedented power grab, and
the Refuge Improvement Act (1997) which also made hunting and fishing priority public uses on all refuge lands
With the vested power of Congress, these acts were clearly approved.
So that’s three separate Federal laws the FWS is violating. You might ask why? Why now? It turns out it’s the same sordid story as we find everywhere else with this administration: cronyism. Undue influence by left wing groups; in this case the HSUS – the Humane Society of the United States. Behind the scenes, the HSUS – the most powerful anti-hunting lobby in the world and a group that despises all forms of hunting and hunters – was thanked by FWS director Ashe in a tweet.