Congress Just Made It Officially Legal To Kill Hibernating Bears

The law rolls back Alaska’s ban on killing the vulnerable bears, along with wolf cubs in dens. It also allows for hunters to target the animals from helicopters. (Photo: Ian mcallister via Getty Images)

Hunters in Alaska can now track and kill hibernating bears thanks to a U.S. House and Senate resolution rolling back Obama-era regulations against the practice.

President Donald Trump signed the bill into law on Monday, which rolled back Alaska’s ban on killing the vulnerable bears, along with wolf cubs in dens. It also allows for hunters to target the animals from helicopters.

The Republican-sponsored legislation impacts 76.8 million acres of federally protected national preserves across Alaska. 

Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) took to the Senate floor last month to denounce the previous rule that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service issued in August.

Murkowski called it “bad for Alaska, bad for hunters, bad for our native peoples, bad for America,” and a “direct attack on states’ rights.”

In Sullivan’s argument, the lawmaker said the change was for Alaskans “who value hunting as a deep part of their culture.” 

The Humane Society of the United States condemned the rollback. 

“What the House did today should shock the conscience of every animal lover in America,” said Humane Society CEO Wayne Pacelle in a statement. “If the Senate and president concur, we’ll see wolf families killed in their dens [and] bears chased down by planes.”

Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who introduced the measure, argued that states’ rights were being infringed upon by the rule.

“We have to recognize this is not about the little polar bears, the little grizzly bears or wolves on television, this is about the state’s right to manage — not allowing the federal government to do so,” Young said in testimony in February. “We want to be able to take and manage our fish and game for the sustainable yield — so that our fish and game will be there forever.”

Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, said killing predators in such a “cruel, unsportsmanlike fashion is outrageous.” 

“Senate Republicans have shown just how mean-spirited and petty they are with today’s vote,” he said in a statement following the passed measure in March.

Young said that if Alaskans weren’t happy with the bill, they should stop re-electing him.

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Other common name: Grizzly bear. Sometimes classified as sub-species Ursus arctos horribilis. Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA. Native: Northwest America, Alaska, Canada and Russia, isolated populations in Europe. Habitat: mixed woodland and open areas.
Two black bear cubs strike a pose for the camera in the Smoky Mountains.
POLAR BEAR PAW. CLOSE-UP. CHURCHILL. MANITOBA, CANADA
Wild, male American black bear (Ursus americanus) laying down or resting in summer grasses. Near Lake Superior, Ontario, Canada
China, Sichuan Province, Chengdu, Giant Panda Bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) feeding on bamboo shoots at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos horriblis)
Photo, Two polar bear cubs sitting on the ground
USA, Alaska, Katmai National Park, Coastal Brown Bear (Ursus arctos) leaping after salmon in spawning stream
Wolong, China
Canada, Alberta, Banff National Park, black bear, ursus americanu
a polar bear mom and cub walking across the edge of the sea ice in Churchill, Canada
Finland, Ruhtinansalmi, near Suomussalmi, Brown bear. Ursus arctos.
Black bear (Ursus americanus) captive, Florida, USA
Brown Bear, (Ursus arctos), cubs, Germany.
Polar bear (Thalarctos maritimus) in snowscape
China, Sichuan Province, Chengdu, Giant Panda Bear (Ailuropoda melanoleuca) eating bamboo shoots at Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
Spitsbergen, Norway
Alaska, United States, North America
Tam Dao, Vinh Phuc, Vietnam, South-East Asia, Asia
Baby panda playing on its back
Polar Bears Playing, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada
United States, North America
Polar bear on floating ice

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost.