No doubt by the title of this blog, you will recognize that I try to think in terms of liberty, so this next statement probably goes without saying. (The fact that I need to say it speaks volumes.) I have very little love for Trump, he has accomplished some things that have been beneficial for liberty, but he has also done his share of things that have not been so good for liberty. You also might note from the title of this blog that I am attempting to live a rural lifestyle and have a profound love and respect for the natural world. Also, my environmental studies degree indoctrinated me into believing that we need the State to protect the natural world. When this article surfaced, a part of me booed Trump and shouted, “we need the State to protect the cuddly-wuddlies!” (I mean look at those little bear cubs!) Of course, I pushed down the knee jerk reaction and started to think with my liberty-oriented brain and I asked myself the question: “How are these deregulations better for the environment than an over oppressive nanny-state dictating legislation from the other side of the country?” Well, here is my take:
The article outlines some seemingly egregious hunting laws that the new regulations would roll back, for example: you could shoot a swimming caribou from your boat, you could bait a bear with bacon or donuts, you could kill coyotes or wolves in their dens. Yes, this seems outrageous and the initial emotional reaction is “you barbarians,” but consider that much of the National Preserve land used to belong to the native inhabitants and many native tribes still use the natural resources found in the wild to provide essentials throughout the year. Well, when you start depending on the environment to provide for you, the whole “by any means necessary” idea takes on a whole new level of seriousness; food in the freezer is food in the freezer, no matter how
it is gotten. It may seem that these laws have been put in place to protect predators and to prevent local residents from eradicating populations of unwanted carnivores, in turn, increasing populations of omnivores and herbivores (more traditional game animals), but know that it wasn’t until 1980 that Jimmy Carter actually designated these lands as National Preserve lands, and it wasn’t until 2015 that Obama passed the laws that the Trump administration is trying to repeal. If hunting practices were so awful, populations would have died off long ago, and as far as I know, wild populations (aside from polar bears) seem to be doing well enough.
To go further, consider that you are a native Alaskan, and your family for as far back as your stories go, has harvested caribou, bears, or wolves for sustenance, clothing or preventative defense. These stories have most likely set a stage of respect and thankfulness. When you rely directly on the natural world to provide virtually every essential belonging for life, you recognize that over harvesting the caribou population is a very bad idea. You would also learn that predators cull the weak and sick members of a herd, and without those predators, the herds population will boom and along with it, sickness and disease, eventually leading to a collapse of the herd size and, in turn, a lean harvest. You would learn better than any textbook could teach how the ecosystem is related.
Essentially, this is just saying that federal laws, created some 4000 miles from a place they are specifically written for, probably aren’t necessary. In fact, Alaska has localized hunting laws based on the geographic region within the state. These localized restrictions are put into place by local biologists and local communities who have a much better understanding of the ecosystems and environmental impacts of particular animal populations than some vegan bureaucrat in Washington trying to save the environment and gain a few votes. Also, know that when you have two abutting geographic areas with distinctly different laws, but no clear demarcation, it is easy to end up on the wrong side of a border, quickly becoming an outlaw.
So Trump rolled these federal laws back. He gave the power back to the state, back to the local populations, and is allowing them to make informed decisions over something that will effect them directly, it does not seem so bad now.
Addendum: This does not attempt to discuss the issue of public land versus private land, rather I just wanted to look briefly at the direct impact of rolling back some federal regulations enforced on the local level.