Sullivan Amendment Halts Proposed USFWS Changes to Wildlife Management on Alaska Refuges

WASHINGTON, DC – Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s Subcommittee on Fisheries, Water, and Wildlife, today successfully added an amendment to S. 659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, prohibiting the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service from implementing a recently proposed rule that preempts state management of fish, wildlife, and their habitats on national wildlife refuges in Alaska, as guaranteed in the Alaska Statehood Act and the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA).

“I took action today to stop a regulation that would fundamentally change the Fish and Wildlife Service’s relationship with Alaska from one of cooperation to one of subservience,” Senator Sullivan said. “Federal law is clear: With limited exception, the State has the authority to manage wildlife throughout Alaska. Unfortunately, when faced with a federal law it disagrees with, the Fish and Wildlife Service has taken a route too many other federal agencies have in recent years: bypassing the will of Congress and seeking to implement its policies via regulation.”

On January 8, 2016, the Fish and Wildlife Service announced a proposed rule restricting certain state-approved management practices, limiting public input in the management process, and expanding closure procedures on refuges in Alaska. The rule is opposed by the State of Alaska, Alaska’s congressional delegation, and the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, an organization representing all 50 states.

“Alaska has the best management of fish and game of any state or country in the world,” Senator Sullivan said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service simply has no justification for preempting the science-based management conducted by the Alaska Board of Game in an open and public process.” 

S.659, the Bipartisan Sportsmen’s Act of 2015, sponsored by Senator Sullivan, would protect and enhance opportunities for recreational hunting, fishing, and shooting. This legislation passed the Environment and Public Works Committee by a vote of 12 to 8, and will next head to the Senate floor where it is expected to be joined with a similar bill, S.556, sponsored by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), which passed the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in November.