Yearling brown bear cubs near the Russian River Ferry. (Photo by Matt Conner/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Yearling brown bear cubs near the Russian River Ferry. (Photo by Matt Conner/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Judge delivers victory for opponents of brown bear trapping in refuge

U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason ruled against proposed changes to the refuge’s public use regulations

A federal court has ruled to uphold regulations prohibiting brown bear baiting in the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge.

U.S. District Judge Sharon L. Gleason rejected efforts to overturn a 2016 rule regulating hunting and trapping on the refuge, including prohibiting brown bear baiting, affirming that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has authority to manage wildlife it oversees.

Groups such as the Alaska Wildlife Alliance, Friends of Alaska National Wildlife Refuge and Trustees for Alaska celebrated the ruling, which was delivered last week, as a victory for Kenai’s brown bears.

“This decision means that the Kenai Refuge will continue to function as a true refuge for vulnerable Kenai brown bears and other species,” said Rachel Briggs, staff attorney with Trustees for Alaska. “The ruling further maintains the Skilak area for wildlife viewing, and confirms the authority of the Fish and Wildlife Service to manage wildlife refuges to support an array of uses and protect wildlife diversity.”

Plaintiffs included the State of Alaska, Safari Club International and Alaska Professional Hunters Association, among others. Defendants included the U.S. Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, among others.

The ruling in State of Alaska v. Bernhardt, which was delivered on Nov. 13, can be viewed by searching case number 3:17-cv-00013-SLG.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Aurora Borealis glows over the Mendenhall Glacier in 2014. (Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Aurora forecast

Forecasts from the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Geophysical Institute for the week of Nov. 27

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 26

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Sugar Bear Alaskan Treasures, seen here, was one of many artist vendors featured at the Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska Indigenous Artists & Vendors Holiday Market from noon to 5 p.m. on Friday through Sunday at Elizabeth Peratrovich Hall. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Indigenous Holiday Market features local artists

Market’s first return since 2018.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Thursday, Nov. 24

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A member of the Juneau Gun Club helps participants with shooting clay targets, one of many events featured at the club’s annual Thanksgiving turkey shoot. (Jonson Kuhn / Juneau Empire)
Ready, aim, gobble: Juneau Gun Club hosts annual Turkey Shoot

No turkeys were harmed in the making of this article.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Wednesday, Nov. 23

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

A cellphone screen displays spam text messages. During busy shopping season, scammers pretending to be other people, businesses or agencies frequently attempt to gain personal information via “spoofed” text messages, emails or phone calls. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
‘Criminals do not take the holidays off’

FBI shares tips to avoid being scammed during busy shopping season.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Saturday, Nov. 19

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

(Michael Penn / Juneau Empire File)
Police calls for Tuesday, Nov. 22

This report contains information from law enforcement and public safety agencies.

Most Read