Alaska slams feds for keeping hunters off land

October 9, 2013

Alaska lawmakers accused the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service of violating federal law by shutting down hunting on its lands during the government shutdown, saying a 1980 law guarantees state residents must have access to the land.

“It seems that agencies are working harder to keep people off federal lands than they have ever worked before to get them to visit federal lands,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Alaska Republican, who questioned the Obama administration’s decisions during the week-old shutdown.

The National Park Service has faced scorching criticism for closing not just parks, but even parking lots and drives that don’t require continual monitoring or upkeep. Other federal land management agencies also are facing criticism.

A tour guide who had a group at Yellowstone National Park accused the Park Service of “Gestapo tactics” in trying to prevent visitors from viewing any of the sites, saying that while they were allowed to remain at the lodge in the park, they were not allowed to do much else — including walk on the boardwalk paths outside the lodge or visit the park’s geysers.

And when he took the tour bus with his group along the road and stopped to photograph bison, he said, a ranger drove up behind them and told them they could be charged with trespassing.

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