We reported last week that the federal U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has taken steps to curb the state-approved Brown Bear hunt on the Kenai Peninsula, by closing the hunt within the boundaries of the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
Now, they’ve also shut down the wolf, lynx, and coyote hunt within the Skilak Loop Management Area.
The closure is scheduled to go into effect on November 10, 2013.
Last March the State Board of Game met in Kenai and after taking public comment, they decided on a limited opening of the predator hunt, which they said wouldn’t harm the conservation of the species.
The latest step by the federal agency could sour the relationship between the state and the feds, as Doug Vincent-Lang, Director of the State Division of Wildlife Conservation said, “Preemption of valid state regulations is becoming a regular feature of federal overreach into state management of fish and wildlife. This action sets yet another poor precedent for future action by the USFWS to close any authorized state hunt when federal managers determine it does not fit within their philosophical agenda. With nearly 80 million acres of national wildlife refuge lands in Alaska, this is a significant issue that deserves better attention to long-held commitments to interagency coordination and cooperation.”
He says the state tool federal concerns into consideration when forming the new regulations, and adapted their policies, but the USFWS hasn’t responded to their requests for collaboration.
Deputy Refuge Manager Steve Miller said the “action makes permanent the hunting and trapping restrictions that were in place in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area under State of Alaska hunting and trapping regulations prior to 2013,” and insists the closure was needed to “ensure consistency” with the refuge’s management goals.