- Associated Press - Thursday, August 4, 2016

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Federal wildlife officials are implementing a rule prohibiting predator control on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, more than 73 million acres of land, with some exceptions.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service may still allow predator control - the hunting of predators, such as wolves, to boost moose and caribou populations - if the agency determines the effort is in response to conservation concerns, KTUU-TV reported (http://bit.ly/2aP30gm).

“Alaska’s national wildlife refuges are incredible landscapes with wildlife populations that support subsistence, traditional and recreational opportunities like hunting, fishing and wildlife viewing,” said Fish and Wildlife Director Dan Ashe.

The rule, which was opened to public comment earlier this year, was published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. It will take go into effect 30 days from its publication.

Andrea Medeiro, a spokeswoman for the federal agency, said the rule is a response to increased predator control by the Alaska Board of Game.

But Bruce Dale, director of the Alaska division of wildlife conservation, maintains that recent state efforts have resulted in fewer predators being taken. He was critical of the new federal rule.

“It’s just further erosion of the state’s management authority of fish and game. And it’s Fish and Wildlife siding with outside interests,” Dale said.

Animal welfare advocates have praised the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for its decision to crack down on predator control in the state.

“So many Alaskans are thrilled to know that there will be enhanced protection on national wildlife refuges,” said Michael Haukedalen, Alaska state director for The Humane Society. “Alaska’s economy depends on the lure of grizzly bears, wolves and other megafauna, and this rule will go a long way toward keeping the living capital in place.”

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Information from: KTUU-TV, http://www.ktuu.com

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