The Republican Party has two mantras: “states’ rights” and “job-killing regulations” (or “job-creating deregulation”). Neither of these is served by two joint resolutions currently making their way through Congress: H.J. Res. 69 and its companion in the Senate S.J. Res. 18.
House Joint Resolution 69 would repeal the Fish & Wildlife Service’s rule outlawing the baiting, trapping and “denning” of bears and wolves in Alaska’s wildlife refuges. The resolution is sponsored by Alaska’s politicians in Washington, Representative Don Young and Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan – all Republicans. They want to make it easier to hunt caribou and moose by reducing wolf and bear populations. To “impress” his fellow legislators, Rep. Young told of entering wolf dens and killing mother and pups when he worked as a bounty hunter. His office walls are lined with animal trophies, including a grizzly bear hide, with the bear’s hind legs framing a piece of the Alaskan pipeline!
This is not a rant against hunting or hunters. This is a call for common sense and humanity. Supposedly this is intended to “reduce job-killing regulations.” In fact, no jobs are created by allowing hunters to enter wildlife preserves, even during denning season (when animals give birth and remain in the den to protect and care for their young), to kill bears and wolves. The resolution would also allow the reinstatement of trapping and snaring in inhumane ways, such as a wire between two trees that when the bear gets caught in it, it wraps around his neck and chokes him.
The politicians also evoke “states’ rights” in their defense of the resolution, but in fact, these wildlife refuges are the jurisdiction of the federal government. They, along with National Parks, are our nation’s patrimony, for all to appreciate and preserve.
Such a resolution couldn’t possibly be good for Alaska’s second largest industry, which is tourism. Having been to Alaska recently, I can attest to the fact that the swarms of tourists landing on Alaska’s shores from cruise ships are not there to hunt. In fact, far more exciting than the sighting of a number of caribou was that of a sole grizzly bear foraging for berries. Telephoto camera lenses pointing in the bear’s direction, we were fortunately too far away for the bear to hear the multitude of camera shutters clicking!
There is much to be outraged about with the Trump administration, including the elimination of the EPA. But these resolutions underline specific policies that would become the norm if they are approved, and worse if the EPA is weakened or dismantled altogether.
What is happening to the EPA and environmental conservation is not on most media outlets’ radar, and these are among dozens of other regressive policies being floated in Congress. Some want to completely abolish the Department of Education (under the ideology of “states’ rights” of course). Gun laws are to be relaxed even more than they already are. The Republicans’ “fix” for the ACA (called AHCA – is the H for horrendous?!) has gotten a lot of news coverage, but most likely will not be approved in its present form. In defense of the press, it would be impossible to give every one of these outrageous acts the coverage they deserve.
If most people, including Trump voters who love animals, knew about these two resolutions, I doubt if they would approve of the resolutions to kill more bears and wolves, just to give hunters an easier time hunting caribou and moose and being able to hang trophies on their walls. What about Alaskans? Do they support such measures? One thing I noticed about people in Alaska – they love nature and their wildlife.
I’ve heard there has already been plenty of “buyers’ remorse” among Trump voters, but those who remain loyal to him most likely have no idea what is going on behind the scenes. Do they all want to see public education dismantled? Do they all want to put guns into the hands of mentally ill people? Do they all want to see federal lands destroyed for the benefit of a few? I watched the Town Hall in West Virginia given by Chris Hayes and Bernie Sanders a few nights ago. They talked about the issues most important to coal mining families – health care and jobs. And on those two fronts, the outlook is not good. Trump has no intention of fulfilling his promises to those people. It was just another of his many lies.
We must be vigilant to keep up with everything going on in Washington DC. I hope those who read this will contact their Congress members to express their disapproval.
We can’t rely on only one media source for our news, because we might miss something important. In fact, while newspapers are declining in circulation, I think it’s important to keep subscribing to and reading newspapers. (For one thing, I owe the information about H.J. Res. 69 and S.J. Res. 18 to Kathleen Parker, a member of the Washington Post Writers Group, and whose opinion column often appears in my local newspaper, The Daily Herald, which leans conservative.)