On Thursday, Congressman Don Young successfully moved through the U.S. House a rejection of a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service rule that had gutted Alaska’s right to manage fish and wildlife on 77 million acres of federal refuge land.
The rule was enacted in the final months of the Obama Administration and effectively took authority from Alaska that was granted by the Alaska Statehood Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act, ANILCA.
Late in the afternoon, after hours of floor debate, 220 Republicans voted in favor of Young’s resolution, and 10 voted against it.
House Democrats were vocal in their opposition, rising repeatedly to accuse Alaskans of killing wolf pups in their dens, baiting bears, and hunting from airplanes.
But in the end they were outnumbered, 183 voting against Young’s resolution, and five voting in favor of it.
The resolution, H.J. Res. 69, now goes to the Senate, where the process will likely be slower due to the large number of cabinet appointments that are still clogging up the calendar.
Democrats in the Senate are challenging every Trump cabinet appointment that comes before them and a President’s Day recess is beginning today so lawmakers can return to their districts through the end of the month.
Observers of the Congressional Review Act process to undo Obama’s 11th-hour rulings say that it’s time for “all hands on deck” from Alaska. Supporters of state management of fish and wildlife will need to make their voices heard.
Both Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan will need to work their relationships in the Senate and ensure that Republicans from liberal states don’t bend to the propaganda being pushed by animal activists who are spreading falsehoods about Alaska’s fish and game management practices. Murkowski has strong relationships with key senators whose votes will be key to the win.
As U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan prepares to carry the resolution to the Senate floor in coming weeks, his Communication Director Mike Anderson expressed confidence that management of fish and wildlife in Alaska would be returned to state jurisdiction.
“We’ll get it done,” he said.
The Senate vote can’t lose any Republicans, which is where help in counteracting the false narrative of Outside environmental groups.
Rep. Don Young’s Facebook page has thousands of comments from people outside of Alaska, accusing Alaskans of killing wolf pups in their dens and shooting bears from planes. Both of those practices are not legal hunting practices in Alaska.
To counteract the “fake news” being promulgated by the environmental lobby industry, pressure from Alaska’s leaders, such as Fish and Game Commissioner Sam Cotten, a Democrat, could be helpful.
Overturning the Fish and Wildlife rule is critical for comprehensive wildlife management in Alaska, since animals cross jurisdictions frequently. The Fish and Wildlife Service rule that took away Alaska’s legal authority to manage fish and wildlife on refuge land left a patchwork situation that would make responsible management nearly impossible.
If the rule is overturned, Fish and Wildlife would be prevented from enacting any similar rule without an act of Congress.
For his part, Rep. Young declared victory and thanked people who came forward to assist: “From the beginning, I said I would do everything in my power to overturn this illegal jurisdictional power grab by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Today, we’re one step closer to delivering on that commitment and eliminating a wrongful seizure of Alaska’s fish and wildlife management authority,” Young said.
“I’m thankful to all those that played a role in moving this important resolution of disapproval, including the countless state and local stakeholders that worked with me to fight a very serious and alarming overreach by the previous administration. I look forward to working with Senators Sullivan and Murkowski to ensure H.J. Res. 69 receives swift consideration in the Senate.”