If you’ve been following developments in the west, you know that the federal government has recently opened up bison hunting at Yellowstone National Park and officials have proposed allowing a limited hunt at Grand Canyon National Park.
Hunting within National Parks is not common, although Grand Teton National Park has for decades hosted an elk hunt each year known as an “elk reduction” program. Now a conservation group is suing the federal government to stop it.
A 2014 agreement between Grand Teton and Wyoming Game and Fish Department improperly allows hunters to choose species other than elk, including some that are endangered. They worry that under the agreement, hunting grizzlies and wolves could soon be allowed.
Part of the disagreements come down to parcels of private land known as inholdings that are located within the park. When a wolf was shot within one of these parcels in 2014 and the hunter was not prosecuted, it seemed to set precedent as far as the jurisdiction of park protections.
“Wildlife obviously don’t pay attention to title records and move around on all of those parcels,” said Tim Preso, an Earthjustice attorney representing Defenders of Wildlife and Wyoming Wildlife Advocates, according to The Spectrum. “You cannot maintain the park, the integrity of the park as a preserve for wildlife protection, when you have these islands where wildlife can be killed.”
The National Park Service meanwhile defended its management.
“For more than 65 years, the National Park Service rightfully and lawfully exercised authority to protect all park wildlife,” said Sharon Mader, Grand Teton program manager for the NPCA told the newspaper. “It should continue to do so moving forward.”