A bill has just been passed by President Donald Trump and his administration that makes it legal to shoot and kill hibernating bears in Alaska.
Home to 16 national wildlife refuges, Alaska’s refuge lands cover 76 million acres and stretches from the remote Arctic in the north to the Aleutian Islands extending far to the west. Hunters can now use aircraft across the parks to track and shoot these majestic mammals.
Under the previous law introduced by Barack Obama, it was illegal for hunters to use aggressive tactics. This included tracking bears with aircraft, killing bears that were hibernating and luring bears with food.
Unsurprisingly the new bill, which came into affect on 3 April, was supported by the National Rifle Association—the highly influential gun rights lobby in the US.
It’s a horrific blow to nature lovers, animal welfare groups and conversationalists. In a statement, Jeff Flocken, the regional director for the North American branch of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said:
This lethal legislation will permit the use of barbaric devices like leg-hold traps, which can leave animals struggling and suffering for days, and neck snares that slowly strangle entangled wildlife. To call these practices cruel is a vast understatement.
It’s a horrific step backwards for everyone who cherishes these beautiful animals. Deforestation and climate change is already encroaching on these bears and threatening their lives. Aggressive and torturous hunting tactics is another sad and frightening development for this precious species.