In 2016, animal-lovers and activists alike cheered when the U.S. Senate voted to ban the hunting of vulnerable species in Alaska, namely hibernating bears and wolves. Dr. Jane applauded these actions taken to ”sanction barbaric practices.” However, last week the U.S. Senate voted to overturn these sanctions, known as the Non-Subsistence Take of Wildlife, and Public Participation and Closure Procedures, on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska. Now, under these new laws, it is legal to hunt bear cubs with their mothers, hibernating bears and wolf pups in their dens. The overturning of previous sanctions also allows the use of snares, steel jawed traps, and aircrafts to hunt these vulnerable creatures. With unjust methods of hunting once again allowed, wildlife refuges are no longer safe places for the precious species they contain. As Dr. Jane remarked, “What a mockery of that word – a refuge for what? For whom?”
It’s devastating that when we make such profound progress in protecting wildlife and our earth, we continue to face setbacks like this one. Decisions that jeopardize the Earth’s protection are heartbreaking, as my fellow Roots & Shoots U.S National Youth Leadership Council member Abby Abrahamson affirmed. “I am deeply saddened by the Senate’s action to undo a rule that would prevent cruel and unjust hunting practices. However, we can still take strides to make sure that the future of these animals is protected,” Abby passionately explained.
As terrible as these situations are, it’s not too late to speak up. Write to your senators and make your voices heard. Spread the word in your families and communities to raise awareness. Help our leaders understand this grave situation and show them that we refuse to ignore it. Our government should represent the desires of the people, so now is the time to ensure that our passions are heard, respected, and acted upon.