The State of Alaska filed a petition last week asking the U.S. Supreme Court to review a Ninth Circuit Court decision that upheld a Department of Interior action that oversteps state laws that pertain to the method and means of hunting on federal refuges.
“The Ninth Circuit brushed over the cooperative nature of ANILCA (Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act) and invited the federal management agencies to preempt state law at their will,” the brief states, in reference to the case of In Safari Club International v. Haaland.
Beginning in 2015, the U.S. Department of Interior issued three regulations preventing brown bear baiting, overriding state-authorized hunting on park preserves and national wildlife refuges.
The State of Alaska and Safari Club International sued. After the lawsuit was filed, Congress invalidated the broadest regulation—the one banning brown bear baiting, among other methods of hunting, statewide in all national wildlife refuges in Alaska.
Contrary to Congress’s action, the Department of Interior continues to ban this method of hunting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.
The lawsuit is about Alaska’s traditional authority, which was granted at statehood, to manage the methods and means of hunting throughout Alaska.
The petition asserts that, through ANILCA, “Congress did not divest Alaska of its traditional authority. Congress preserved it.” The Ninth Circuit ruling undermines ANILCA, and gives authority to federal agencies to override state law and ignore the will of Alaskans.
“Congress did not intend for federal agencies to have unlimited authority over how we access our wildlife,” said Gov. Mike Dunleavy. “We will continue to fight to ensure that Alaskans manage how we use our own resources.”
“Soon after statehood, Alaska implemented a comprehensive management program to ensure we could responsibly manage our resources based on sustained yield principles in a manner that incorporates public interests. Today, the federal government is trying to circumvent our hard-fought statehood rights to manage our resources and replace it with theirs, including a new claim that they have a property right to our fish and game resources. This is federal overreach, unchecked by the Ninth Circuit Court,” said Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang.
“We have State biologists managing wildlife populations at all times,” said Alaska Attorney General Treg Taylor. “We manage our wildlife resources responsibly to guarantee future Alaskans can enjoy harvests as well. These Federal regulations wrongfully obstruct Alaska’s right to do so.”