Eco-Activists Sue Trump For Cancelling Obama-Era Hunting Restrictions

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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An environmental group sued the Trump administration Friday for rescinding restrictions on hunting bears, wolves and other predators living in federal wildlife refuges in Alaska.

The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) filed suit in the U.S. District Court of Alaska. Environmentalists argue President Donald Trump’s signing of Congressional Review Act (CRA) legislation curtailing his own power to issue regulations on “predator control” violates the separation of powers outlined in the U.S. Constitution. CBD is also suing the Trump administration to stop construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border, arguing endangered species would be hurt.

“Wolf cubs shouldn’t be slaughtered in their dens on the very wildlife refuges that are meant to protect biological diversity,” Collette Adkins, an attorney and biologist at CBD, said in a statement.

In its lawsuit, CBD argued that by “nullifying the Refuges Rule, and prohibiting any future substantially similar rules … without amending any of Interior’s existing rulemaking authorities, Congress expanded its own power at the expense of the executive branch.”

CBD is asking the court to nullify the CRA resolution, signed by Trump in April, on the grounds it limited the delegated powers of the executive branch.

“It’s outrageous that Trump and congressional Republicans used this unconstitutional law to promote the senseless slaughter of some of Alaska’s most iconic wildlife,” Adkins said. “They clearly don’t care about the critical role these amazing animals play in healthy ecosystems.”

CBD is basically arguing that Congress violated the constitution by passing a law to curtail authority it had delegated to the Interior Department.

Jonathan Wood, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, called CBD’s argument a “farce.”

CBD argues Congress can only curtail executive authority, in this case, by amending the existing statutes that authorized the Interior Department to restrict hunting.

Environmentalists argue rescinding the hunting restriction put in place by the Obama administration was necessary to protect bears and wolves from hunters.

The Humane Society said the Obama rule prevented “shooting or trapping wolves while at their dens with cubs, using airplanes to scout for grizzly bears to shoot, trapping bears with cruel steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares and luring grizzly bears with food to get a point blank kill.”

The Obama administration finalized the hunting restrictions in August. The administration argued the rules did not affect subsistence hunting or fishing, but one line in the rule had Alaskans worried.

“Demands for more wildlife for human harvest cannot be the sole or primary basis for predator control,” reads the Interior Department rule.

The state of Alaska sued the Obama administration in January, arguing the ban predator control methods would keep natives and rural residents from subsistence hunting and fishing, even if their activity was previously condoned by the state.

“If not expressly allowed for in federal regulation, federally qualified subsistence users may no longer practice state authorized methods of harvest,” Alaska argued in its lawsuit.

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