The U.S. Government Is Making It Legal To Shoot Hibernating Bear Families In Their Dens

"What the Senate did today should outrage the conscience of every animal lover in America."

The U.S. Senate just voted 52-47 to allow barbaric hunting tactics such as killing hibernating bear families in their dens - and now the lives of countless animals on 76 million acres of federal wildlife refuges in Alaska are in President Donald Trump's hands.

Before the vote, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) said the bill contained "some of the most cruel and inhumane savage killing of animals."

Now the government is set to overturn previous U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulations that were put in place to protect our wildlife, allowing hunters to lure grizzly bears with food to shoot them at point-blank range. They will be able to legally enter bear and wolf dens to kill mothers and their young cubs and pups. Hunters will also be allowed to shoot bears from airplanes. Steel-jawed leghold traps and wire snares will be allowed on these national lands.

The resolution, S.J.Res.18, was introduced by U.S. House Representative Don Young (R-AK), a former trapper. Even though a 2016 poll of Alaska voters showed that most people agree that these cruel hunting practices should be banned, the measure passed through the House 225-193 last month, with some congressmen citing states' rights as the reason for their vote in favor, despite the resolution being about federal lands.

"What the Senate did today should outrage the conscience of every animal lover in America," Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), said on Tuesday, after the Senate passed the resolution.

The regulations came from the Obama administration, but received some bipartisan approval at the time. "Inhumane hunting methods have caused the overkilling of native Alaskan predators; this rule takes a balanced approach allowing for traditional, permit-based hunting," then-Representative Mike Fitzpatrick (R-PA) said last year after the cruel practices were banned.

But special interest groups have been seeking to strip the federal government of its authority over these lands. "Special interest groups are quietly working at the federal and state level to lay the groundwork for federally managed lands to be handed over wholesale to state or even private ownership," Dan Ashe, then-FWS director, wrote last year in an op-ed. "Unfortunately, without the protections of federal law and the public engagement it ensures, this heritage is incredibly vulnerable."

Now that these protections are being overturned, animal lovers all over the country are worried. "There are many many people of both 'parties' that love animals and oppose this," one commenter wrote this week.

"This is inhuman, it's inhumane," Booker said. "It is wrong."

To tell President Trump what you think about this bill, you can write to The White House or send him a message at @realDonaldTrump.

Update: On April 3, 2017, President Trump signed the resolution to roll back federal protections for bears and wolves on wildlife refuges into law.