National Park Service to ban bear baiting in national preserves across Alaska

The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has finalized regulations to prohibit the practice of baiting bears with food like pastries or bacon grease before hunting them in national preserves across Alaska. This change, which is in line with the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), affects only sport hunting and will take effect within 30 days.

The NPS stated that bear baiting poses multiple public safety concerns as it encourages bears to become accustomed to human-provided food, increasing the likelihood of negative human-bear interactions. The bait often includes non-natural food items such as dog food, bacon grease, and pancake syrup, which could lead bears to associate these foods with humans, posing risks to people, bears, and property.

In 2022, the NPS initiated rulemaking to reconsider the 2020 regulation after consulting with Alaska Native Tribes and Alaska Native Corporations. A federal district judge had previously remanded the 2020 regulation back to NPS due to violations of NPS laws and policies in some respects. The new rule addresses these concerns and is more consistent with NPS obligations to manage for natural processes, protect wildlife, and promote visitor safety.

Animal rights groups have expressed satisfaction with the amendment. Wayne Pacelle, president of Animal Wellness Action and the Center for a Humane Economy, described bear baiting as a dangerous practice that violates every norm of wildlife management. He believes that bear baiting should not be allowed anywhere, especially on lands managed by the National Park Service.

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