By Garrett Turner
Channel 2 News
6:26 PM AKST, January 18, 2013
Every year, Alaska hunters eagerly await not only the hunting season, but also the rules and regulations that apply to the taking of wolves, coyotes and bears. Earlier this week, the National Park Service made its annual proposals focusing on three main changes -- which officials think are necessary to preserve the health of specific animal populations.
The Park Service has proposed prohibiting the hunting of wolves and coyotes between May 1 and Aug. 9, as well as the hunting of brown bears at bait stations. Other proposals would renew temporary prohibitions on hunting black bears at dens, including the use of artificial lights and hunting bears with their cubs.
Debora Cooper, the Park Service's associate regional director for Alaska, sees the proposals as a benefit for the state.
"We are looking at them in terms of managing national parks and preserves as a place where we protect natural processes," Cooper said.
The State of Alaska disagrees with the Park Service's plans. Craig Fleener, deputy commissioner of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, believes the changes will adversely affect Alaska Natives.
"When the (Park Service) eliminates a legitimate subsistence opportunity for Alaskans, it's always a concern of ours," Fleener said. "The Park Services incorrectly sees this as predator control and it really isn't. The Board of Game is providing additional opportunity to wolf harvest on really abundant wolf populations."
NPS officials argue the proposals are aimed at preservation.
"It's needed because in National Parks and Preserves we're trying to maintain a wild and natural place for our children and our grandchildren to go and enjoy exactly -- or as close to it, given the climate change -- as it does today," Cooper said.
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