The tragic and illegal killing of a mother bear and her two cubs caught on camera last year sparked outrage and drew attention to cruel hunting methods allowed in Alaska. Now, that footage has been released, highlighting the fate that others like them could soon be subjected to in the state.
The killing took place last spring when Andrew Renner and his son Owen skied to a remote den on Esther Island in Prince William Sound where the son shot the mother (who was wearing a GPS collar), and the father shot the two ‘shrieking’ cubs before discarding their bodies away from the den.
Two days later they returned to remove evidence and dispose of the cubs before bringing the mother’s skin and collar to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G), where they proceeded to lie about where she was killed, which one of them killed her, and whether she had cubs.
Unbeknownst to them, the bears they killed were part of study being conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the ADF&G, and everything they did was captured – complete with sound – by a motion activated camera that had been set up at the den site.
Now, that heartbreaking footage has been released by the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) in an effort to draw attention to this cruel hunting practice, and to the fact that it may be allowed to expand in the state.
The pair have since faced at least some consequences for their actions, but while what they did was illegal in the area they did it, cruel hunting practices like this are perfectly legal in other places in the state and the federal government has been working to expand where they’re allowed.
Even though the National Park Service (NPS) finalized a rule that amended its regulations for sport hunting and trapping in Alaska to prevent cruel killing methods like this from being used on millions of acres on public lands in 2015, they could soon be undone thanks to a proposed rule that would give power back to Alaska’s game officials, and let them decide whether to allow these practices – which they will.
Warning: Graphic Footage
If it’s finalized, bear cubs and mothers like these could be killed while they’re hibernating, vulnerable caribou could be shot from boats while they’re swimming, dogs could be used to hunt black bears, dens would no longer provide a haven for families of wolves and coyotes who could be killed in them, and bears could once again be lured to bait piles of junk food and killed, while more could be targeted from aircraft and snowmobiles.
All of this would be allowed on public lands, including national parks and preserves, despite the fact that thousands of people have already stood in opposition to these practices, and won.
“This video of a father and son killing a mother bear and her babies in their den and showing complete disregard for the lives they are taking is reprehensible. The Renners’ actions demonstrate the ruthless brutality that the government is poised to enact into law on millions of acres in Alaska, overturning a 2015 Obama-era rule that prohibits the killing of black bear mothers and cubs in their dens on these lands.
This kind of killing runs contrary to the very purpose of federal public lands like national preserves and national wildlife refuges. It is too sad and too late for this mom and her babies, but not too late for the government to abandon this heartless plan to enable such killing and instead maintain the rules that protect America’s iconic wildlife,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the HSUS.
While the public comment period has officially closed, no decision has been made yet and you can still stand up for Alaska’s wildlife by signing and sharing the petition letting the Department of the Interior know that these hunting practices are unacceptable and should not be tolerated on public lands.
This article was first published by Care2.com on 30 Mar 2019.
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