Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/15/2003 08:05 AM CRA

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 155-PREDATOR CONTROL/AIRBORNE SHOOTING                                                                                     
CHAIR  MORGAN announced  that the  committee  would continue  its                                                               
hearing on CS  FOR SENATE BILL NO. 155(RES), "An  Act relating to                                                               
predator control programs; and providing for an effective date."                                                                
CHAIR MORGAN  noted that this legislation  had received extensive                                                               
public  testimony  in  the House  Resources  Standing  Committee.                                                               
Therefore, he  announced that the  committee will take  action on                                                               
this legislation by 9:00 a.m.                                                                                                   
Number 0205                                                                                                                     
DOROTHY KEELER provided the following testimony:                                                                                
     Evidently the potential for  predator control to create                                                                    
     a tourism boycott  is being taken seriously.   ... this                                                                    
     new version  of SB 155  ... is  a vain attempt  to hide                                                                    
     who  would  be  responsible.    If  this  bill  passes,                                                                    
     Governor   Murkowski   will   have  created   a   state                                                                    
     sanctioned predator control program  where he cannot be                                                                    
     directly blamed.  If this  bill passes, the legislature                                                                    
     has   created   a   smoke   screen   trying   to   hide                                                                    
     responsibility.   And  the six  Alaska Outdoor  Council                                                                    
     members now sitting on the  Board of Game, who were not                                                                    
     elected by the people and  were selected based on their                                                                    
     eagerness to kill  wolves, may have the  power to bring                                                                    
     the State  of Alaska  to its  financial knees  with the                                                                    
     tourism boycott --  a tourism boycott that  they have a                                                                    
     vested  interest in  prolonging.   Initiating  predator                                                                    
     controls [that] meet the harvest  objectives set by the                                                                    
     Board  of Game  is initiating  a never-ending  predator                                                                    
     control  program.   The objectives  set  were based  on                                                                    
     historic  high   levels  established  after   years  of                                                                    
     poisoning  and aerial  hunting of  predators.   If this                                                                    
     bill  passes,  you  have  asked   the  bullies  of  the                                                                    
     playground  to bankrupt  the parents  of all  the other                                                                    
     kids that  want to  use it.   Nothing would  please the                                                                    
     extremists in Alaska  more -- their goal is  to use the                                                                    
     governor,  and now  the legislature,  to drive  out all                                                                    
     those pesky nonconsumptive users  who dare try to share                                                                    
     in the use  of Alaska's wildlife resources.   Pass this                                                                    
     bill  and   a  tourism   boycott  or   initiatives  and                                                                    
     referendums  are  certain.    Pass  this  bill  and  be                                                                    
     prepared to set aside a  lot of money for lawsuits that                                                                    
     are just  as certain.   Pass this bill and  you deserve                                                                    
     the  shame  of  knowing you  trashed  Alaska's  tourism                                                                    
     industry  to benefit  a  handful  of extremist  hunters                                                                    
     whose  dream  is  to monopolize  the  use  of  Alaska's                                                                    
     wildlife and  return to  the good  old days  of massive                                                                    
     statewide predator control.                                                                                                
Number 0426                                                                                                                     
MIKE FLEAGLE informed  the committee that he was  speaking on his                                                               
own behalf, although  he is the chair of the  Board of Game (BOG)                                                               
and is the Tribal leader of  McGrath.  Mr. Fleagle spoke in favor                                                               
of the  legislation.   As a  rural resident  in a  wolf predation                                                               
zone  where  moose populations  have  plummeted,  he said  he  is                                                               
looking for  any attempt  by the legislature  or the  governor to                                                               
help  restore  the  balance  of predator  to  prey,  which  [CSSB                                                               
155(RES)]  does.    This legislation  removes  the  politics  and                                                               
allows  the  decisions to  be  based  on  biology.   Mr.  Fleagle                                                               
related his  understanding that the administration  is opposed to                                                               
the  section that  removes the  commissioner's written  findings,                                                               
which  some  interpret as  taking  some  of the  administration's                                                               
authority.  However,  the legislation in its  current form leaves                                                               
the  fiscal and  administrative  authority in  the  hands of  the                                                               
administration  and leaves  only regulatory  authority with  BOG.                                                               
Mr. Fleagle reiterated his support of [CSSB 155(RES)].                                                                          
CHAIR  MORGAN  inquired  as  to   Mr.  Fleagle's  stance  on  the                                                               
amendment [specifying  that the  administration has  the ultimate                                                               
MR. FLEAGLE answered that he  is neutral on the amendment because                                                               
the  administration already  has the  ultimate authority  through                                                               
its administrative and fiscal authority.                                                                                        
Number 0778                                                                                                                     
LEO KEELER,  Adaptive Management  Team, whose testimony  was read                                                               
by Dorothy Keeler, as follows:                                                                                                  
     I was  a member of  the [Adaptive Management  Team] and                                                                    
     developed the  draft predator control plan.   Before it                                                                    
     was  finished,  scientific  reports  showed  the  moose                                                                    
     population  was  growing  but  the  bull:cow  ratio  in                                                                    
     popular hunting [areas] was the  true problem.  Because                                                                    
     of the new science the  team never sent a team-approved                                                                    
     plan to  the governor.   Mike  Fleagle agreed  with the                                                                    
     subsistence science  that justified reducing  the moose                                                                    
     population objectives from  6,000 to 3,500.   Now it is                                                                    
     known that  hunters keep the  bull:cow ratio as  low as                                                                    
     six  per hundred.    He wants  to  reestablish the  old                                                                    
     6,000 objective.   This  6,000 figure  is a  guess made                                                                    
     from past high harvest  during extreme predator control                                                                    
     days,  not  from science.    Some  legislators hope  to                                                                    
     return  those   extreme  predator  controls   and  this                                                                    
     legislation  is  an    attempt   to  benefit  a  single                                                                    
     wildlife  interest group,  hunters.    Senate Bill  155                                                                    
     will authorize the Board of  Game to continue to ignore                                                                    
     concerns  with  predator  control.     If  passed,  the                                                                    
     legislature    will    again    be    ignoring    their                                                                    
     responsibility  to protect  all  citizens' interest  in                                                                    
     Alaska's  resources.    If  passed,  it  will  lead  to                                                                    
     lawsuits, initiatives,  and ultimately the  collapse of                                                                    
     the  Board of  Game  system.   Hopefully, the  Wildlife                                                                    
     Board  that  will  replace  the   Board  of  Game  will                                                                    
     represent all citizens  and all users.  I  hope it will                                                                    
     remove the  legislature from  the decision  process and                                                                    
     place  control of  Alaska's wildlife  resources in  the                                                                    
     hands of all citizens, not  just extremist hunters.  If                                                                    
     an initiative is needed to  get a Wildlife Board, let's                                                                    
     start now.                                                                                                                 
Number 1025                                                                                                                     
ROBERT FITHIAN,  Executive Director, Alaska  Professional Hunters                                                               
Association, began by  informing the committee that  he, a master                                                               
guide and  eco-tour operator, lives  within Game  Management Unit                                                               
13 (GMU 13).   He also informed the committee  that he has worked                                                               
with  the Alaska  Miner's Association  as  its elected  statewide                                                               
president and  has served on  the McGrath Fish and  Game Advisory                                                               
Committee.   Mr.  Fithian  said  that he  has  over  20 years  of                                                               
knowledge of GMU 19 and the game populations near McGrath.                                                                      
MR. FITHIAN  noted that the committee  should have a copy  of his                                                               
written testimony and provided additional testimony as follows:                                                                 
     As you  well know,  the ability  to find  resolution on                                                                    
     any issue is to see what  the middle ground is and work                                                                    
     to bring  both sides to  an acceptable point.   I would                                                                    
     like to point out to you  that Alaska has traded a vast                                                                    
     treasure  of  our  wildlife  resources  to  the  animal                                                                    
     rights groups,  such as  the Alaska  Wildlife Alliance,                                                                    
     Defenders of  Wildlife, Friends of Animals,  et cetera.                                                                    
     Since Alaska lost the ability  to manage predators from                                                                    
     the  air, in  many portions  of the  state the  overall                                                                    
     female  populations  of  our  moose,  Dahl  sheep,  and                                                                    
     caribou herds  have declined by  over 55 percent.   The                                                                    
     number  of  surviving  female   annual  born  of  these                                                                    
     species is  under three-and-a-half percent,  which will                                                                    
     not   allow   any    recruitment   to   the   declining                                                                    
     populations.  The annual harvest  rate of these species                                                                    
     by  humans  is  under  4 percent,  while  predation  is                                                                    
     accountable  for  over 86  percent  of  them.   Natural                                                                    
     mortality of  old age, starvation, or  disease accounts                                                                    
     the remaining 10  [percent].  What these  facts show is                                                                    
     that  if we  stopped all  hunting of  these species  in                                                                    
     these large regions today, a  year from now there would                                                                    
     still  be less  of  these animals.    Human harvest  is                                                                    
     having  no  significant   effect  on  the  populations.                                                                    
     Nothing could be  more pointed to this  demise than the                                                                    
     Chisana  caribou herd  on the  northeastern end  of the                                                                    
     Wrangell  Mountains  within   the  Wrangell  St.  Elias                                                                    
     National  Park and  Preserve.   These  caribou are  the                                                                    
     only genetic  strain of woodland caribou  indigenous to                                                                    
     the  United   States.    Once  stable   in  population,                                                                    
     numbering  in excess  of 4,000,  they currently  number                                                                    
     fewer than  300 with no  known survival of  annual born                                                                    
     for   the  past   several  years,   due  to   predation                                                                    
     predominately by wolves during  the first four weeks of                                                                    
     their   lives.     Alaska  and   the  Yukon   Territory                                                                    
     biologists  predict that  extinction  of this  treasure                                                                    
     will  occur within  the next  few years  if nothing  is                                                                    
     done to remedy the problem.                                                                                                
MR. FITHIAN continued:                                                                                                          
     Committee members  and chairman,  if any of  the groups                                                                    
     that I've  previously mentioned really cared  about our                                                                    
     common trust wildlife resources,  they'd be lined up in                                                                    
     droves  picketing   in  front  of  the   Department  of                                                                    
     Interior  establishments  and threatening  boycotts  of                                                                    
     their parks.   But we don't  see any of that  today, do                                                                    
     we.   It  was  stated in  Monday's  testimony that  our                                                                    
     population  of ungulates  is declining  because of  the                                                                    
     male  to female  ratios  due to  hunting, resulting  in                                                                    
     poor  pregnancy achievement.   This  is absolutely  not                                                                    
     true.  In  the Kuskokwim and Nelchina  regions where we                                                                    
     have  the best  scientific data  available, the  senior                                                                    
     biologist are Toby Bodro (ph)  in McGrath and Bob Tobey                                                                    
     in  Glennallen.   I  have contacted  both  of them  and                                                                    
     found  that there  still  exists  an overall  pregnancy                                                                    
     rate of well over 90 percent.   In fact, in the McGrath                                                                    
     area every  female moose  that was  tagged in  the past                                                                    
     several years  that has survived predation  where there                                                                    
     is no hunting of cow  moose has born calves every year.                                                                    
     It was  also stated  that the  annual wolf  harvest has                                                                    
     been  increasing every  year  for the  past decade  and                                                                    
     that   there's  no   reason   to  consider   additional                                                                    
     management methods.   May I  point out that  the wolves                                                                    
     have the ability to grow  in number annually by over 40                                                                    
     percent.  And  that, yes, the annual  harvest of wolves                                                                    
     by  trapping and  hunting has  increased because  there                                                                    
     are now well  over three times as many  wolves as there                                                                    
     were a decade ago.                                                                                                         
MR.  FITHIAN  concluded  by urging  the  committee  to  carefully                                                               
consider his testimony and pass this legislation.                                                                               
Number 1379                                                                                                                     
TED  SPRAKER  informed  the  committee  that  his  is  a  30-year                                                               
resident who has  recently retired from the  Alaska Department of                                                               
Fish & Game  (ADF&G) where he served as a  wildlife biologist for                                                               
over 28  years.   He noted that  although he is  a member  of the                                                               
BOG, he is  testifying on his own behalf.   Mr. Spraker announced                                                               
his strong support of SB 155  because he believes the state is at                                                               
a  crossroads  in  which  it will  rebuild  prey  populations  or                                                               
continue  to  simply monitor  their  decline.   Passage  of  this                                                               
legislation  would   provide  the   department  with   the  tools                                                               
necessary to  again be  a proactive agency  in the  management of                                                               
predators.   Mr. Spraker told  the committee that he  has trapped                                                               
during  his years  in Alaska.    As a  department biologist,  Mr.                                                               
Spraker  said that  he has  had the  opportunity to  live capture                                                               
hundreds  of wolves,  aerial  shoot wolves,  and  land and  shoot                                                               
wolves.   From his  28-plus years  of experience  and discussions                                                               
with trappers across  the state, Mr. Spraker  related that simple                                                               
land-based trapping  operations aren't going to  remove the 70-80                                                               
percent  necessary to  allow the  depressed moose  populations to                                                               
[rebound].   Mr.  Spraker mentioned  that he  has recently  spent                                                               
time in Aniak where many  people have related that it's difficult                                                               
to get  too far away  from the rivers  to reach the  corridors to                                                               
travel.   Therefore,  these people  have expressed  the need  for                                                               
some sort of aerial or land  and shoot hunting in order to remove                                                               
the high number of wolves necessary  in these areas.  With regard                                                               
to earlier  testimony that  the wolf  harvest is  increasing, Mr.                                                               
Spraker said  that there's strong evidence  illustrating that the                                                               
wolf  harvest  is increasing  because  the  number of  wolves  is                                                               
increasing.   Regardless,  it isn't  enough as  evidenced by  the                                                               
situation in McGrath.                                                                                                           
MR.   SPRAKER  clarified   that  although   he  supported   [CSSB                                                               
155(RES)],  he doesn't  support  the amendment  to reinstate  the                                                               
commissioner's control over  the board.  Mr.  Spraker pointed out                                                               
that the commissioner  still has the ability to  issue permits or                                                               
not and thus the commissioner  continues to have control over any                                                               
predator  control program  that's authorized  by the  board.   He                                                               
turned  to  McGrath, which  he  characterized  as an  example  of                                                               
political  involvement  in  management decisions.    The  McGrath                                                               
[management plan]  has been  on the books  for over  eight years,                                                               
and furthermore  it has been  approved by the board  three times.                                                               
However,  nothing has  really  been done.    According to  ADF&G,                                                               
almost $500,000,  has already been  spent on McGrath in  order to                                                               
keep it  on the books so  that if predator control  is authorized                                                               
it can be completed.                                                                                                            
MR. SPRAKER turned to those  who oppose predator control and said                                                               
that everyone  has to agree  that there will never  be sufficient                                                               
data.   If  the McGrath  program had  started, the  seasons would                                                               
have probably  been increased and the  department certainly would                                                               
have saved  money.  He  recalled earlier testimony  regarding the                                                               
fact that this is the only issue  before the Board of Fish or the                                                               
Board  of Game  in  which  the commissioner  has  oversight.   He                                                               
echoed earlier  sentiments that he  wasn't concerned  with regard                                                               
to this administration's support,  although he was concerned with                                                               
future  administrations.   Mr. Spraker  related  his belief  that                                                               
predator management decisions should be  made by the board, after                                                               
reviewing  information provided  by  the  department and  hearing                                                               
from the public.                                                                                                                
Number 1737                                                                                                                     
DONNE  FLEAGLE,  General  Manager, MTNT,  Limited,  informed  the                                                               
committee  that  MTNT, Limited,  is  a  village corporation  that                                                               
represents  the  villages  of   McGrath,  Takotna,  Nikolai,  and                                                               
Telida.   All four of  the communities rely heavily  on harvested                                                               
game and thus  the availability of a healthy  moose population is                                                               
very  important.   Ms. Fleagle  said that  [predator control]  is                                                               
something that  these communities  have been struggling  with for                                                               
over 10  years.   Repeatedly intensive  management plans  for the                                                               
area have  been approved.   She  related that  various scientific                                                               
data has been reviewed and  there have been discussions with many                                                               
statewide  organizations.     Furthermore,  [area  residents]  as                                                               
hunters, trappers,  gathers, and subsistence users  have taken an                                                               
active  interest  in wildlife  management.    However, the  moose                                                               
population continues  its downward  spiral while the  issue seems                                                               
to be a public debate versus  a [scientific] debate.  Ms. Fleagle                                                               
acknowledged  that  there have  been  some  gains in  the  field,                                                               
although she credited  those to the local efforts  in the region.                                                               
Ms.  Fleagle  announced  that  MTNT,  Limited,  supports  SB  155                                                               
because  it  provides an  additional  tool  for game  management,                                                               
which may  have an  impact on  turning the  trend in  the region.                                                               
Furthermore,  MTNT,   Limited,  does   support  giving   BOG  the                                                               
authority  to institute  a predator  control program  because the                                                               
scientific data is present [to support]  it and the state has the                                                               
resources to support it, she said.                                                                                              
Number 1943                                                                                                                     
OLIVER BURRIS  informed the  committee that  he is  testifying on                                                               
his own  behalf, although he is  a member of the  Alaska Wildlife                                                               
Conservation Association  and the Alaska Outdoor  Council as well                                                               
as many  other pro-management  groups.   Mr. Burris  provided the                                                               
following testimony:                                                                                                            
     The  Alaska  Constitution  gives  the  legislature  the                                                                    
     responsibility and  the authority  to manage game.   At                                                                    
     statehood, the legislature  gave authority for predator                                                                    
     control to the [Alaska] Department  of Fish & Game.  In                                                                    
     1983  the Department  of Law  settled out  of court  to                                                                    
     transfer predator  control to  the Board  of Game.   In                                                                    
     1987 Governor  Cowper canceled all predator  control on                                                                    
     habitat  improvement programs.    His  authority to  do                                                                    
     that was  never legally questioned.   Since the various                                                                    
     administrations  have  assumed authority  for  predator                                                                    
     control and  de facto  all wildlife  management despite                                                                    
     several  laws passed  by the  legislature to  force the                                                                    
     administration  to  manage  game  as  directed  by  the                                                                    
     The referendums  that were passed and  written into law                                                                    
     by the Department of Law  gave the commissioner of [the                                                                    
     Alaska Department of] of Fish  & Game the authority for                                                                    
     aerial  shooting and  same day  land and  shooting.   I                                                                    
     don't believe  this was legal, but  the legislature has                                                                    
     the authority  to correct this  and the  current Senate                                                                    
     and House bills  will do just that.  We  must return to                                                                    
     active  constitutional   management  of   our  wildlife                                                                    
     resources;  it's  necessary  for  our  traditional  and                                                                    
     cultural values  and the economic health  of our state.                                                                    
     We have  lost millions  of dollars, maybe  billions, in                                                                    
     the  loss  of  meat  and  other  economic  benefits  to                                                                    
     resident    hunters   because    of   declining    game                                                                    
     populations.   Economic  loss for  nonresident hunters,                                                                    
     who are  the original  Alaskan tourist, has  been equal                                                                    
     or  greater.    The  bottom   line  is  we  manage  our                                                                    
     renewable  wildlife resources  or  we lose  them.   You                                                                    
     have heard testimony that the  decline of our moose and                                                                    
     caribou are  inevitable, and  it's just  not true.   SB                                                                    
     155 is a  great step in the right direction  and I urge                                                                    
     you to pass this bill  on.  The proposed amendment that                                                                    
     came about  to give  the commissioner a  seven-day veto                                                                    
     period on  predator control, I'd  just like  to comment                                                                    
     that the commissioner has no  more ability to determine                                                                    
     the effectiveness  of airborne shooting than  the Board                                                                    
     of Game.   From  1978 to  1986 the  Board of  Game made                                                                    
     that determination.   From 1959 to  1972 the department                                                                    
     regulated  public  aerial  shooting and  ...  same  day                                                                    
     aerial shooting.   My bottom line message is  use it or                                                                    
     lose it -- management or lose it.                                                                                          
Number 2129                                                                                                                     
MIKE TINKER,  Chair, Fairbanks Fish and  Game Advisory Committee,                                                               
urged the  legislature to  take back  the responsibility  of game                                                               
management given  by the  constitution.   The Fairbanks  Fish and                                                               
Game  Advisory  Committee would  like  to  see Alaska's  wildlife                                                               
resources utilize the  habitat because it's the only  way all the                                                               
user groups  can be  helped, he  related.   Mr. Tinker  urged the                                                               
committee to look upon these  threats of lawsuits and referendums                                                               
with  disdain, those  folks  have never  been  successful with  a                                                               
boycott in North America and there's  no reason why they would be                                                               
now.   Furthermore, it remains  important for Alaska to  stand up                                                               
for what  it believes  to be  right in  managing its  wildlife so                                                               
that it  utilizes its habitat and  can be used by  Alaskans.  The                                                               
aforementioned  is why  predator control  is necessary,  he said.                                                               
Mr. Tinker concluded by urging the passage of this legislation.                                                                 
Number 2244                                                                                                                     
SHARON McLEOD-EVERETTE  clarified that  although she is  a member                                                               
of the Board of  Game, she is testifying on her  own behalf.  Ms.                                                               
McLeod-Everette  informed the  committee  that she  has lived  in                                                               
Alaska all but the  first 11 months of her almost  54 years.  She                                                               
noted that she grew up in Unit  13 when it was still quite rural.                                                               
For meat, her family hunted  moose and caribou and snared rabbits                                                               
and caught  fish.  Ms.  McLeod-Everette said that her  family has                                                               
seen firsthand  the demise  of the moose  population in  Unit 13,                                                               
primarily when  airborne hunting of  wolves ended.   She recalled                                                               
her childhood  when moose were [plentiful].   In 1983 she  was an                                                               
assistant guide who  spent about a month each fall  up close with                                                               
wildlife and  by 1989  it was clear  that populations  of animals                                                               
were  changing.   The  moose  were  dwindling and  the  predators                                                               
exploded.  For example, it became  the norm to have six different                                                               
bear  tracks in  her tracks  every day  and no  moose calves  for                                                               
about five years.   Finally, there are about one  or two calves a                                                               
year in  areas where there  were once  lots of single  calves and                                                               
MS.  McLEOD-EVERETTE said  she  is  very much  in  favor of  this                                                               
legislation  in its  unamended  version.   She  pointed out  that                                                               
Alaska's constitution  lays out  goals and activities,  which she                                                               
paraphrased as follows:                                                                                                         
     First,  the  legislature  provides   for  the  use  and                                                                    
     conservation  of all  of our  natural resources,  which                                                                    
     includes fish and  game for the maximum  benefit of the                                                                    
     people.  Second, that these  resources are reserved for                                                                    
     common use.   Third, that these  resources are supposed                                                                    
     to be used, developed,  and maintained on the sustained                                                                    
     yield principle,  which means that they're  supposed to                                                                    
     be nurtured,  weeded, and maintained so  that they last                                                                    
     in  perpetuity.    And   fourth,  the  legislature  can                                                                    
     provide for improvements of  services to assure greater                                                                    
     use and development of fish wildlife and waters.                                                                           
MS. McLEOD-EVERETTE  said SB  155 provides  the tools  to achieve                                                               
these mandates for Alaska's game  resources.  Ms. McLeod-Everette                                                               
related  that  when  Governor Murkowski  asked  each  prospective                                                               
member to serve  on the BOG, he  made it clear that  he wanted to                                                               
return  game to  abundance in  Alaska and  manage it  for maximum                                                               
sustained yield.   She said she  agreed to work to  achieve those                                                               
goals.   She  informed the  committee that  there are  many areas                                                               
that have suffered from the  failure to reduce predators, such as                                                               
McGrath, the remainder  of Unit 19 and Units 13,  20, 21, and 24.                                                               
From testimony at the March 3,  2003, BOG meeting it sounds as if                                                               
Units  14  and   16  also  have  dreadfully   low  moose  numbers                                                               
accompanied by high  predators.  This legislation  [SB 155] takes                                                               
great strides to  ensure that the constitutional  mandates can be                                                               
met  and  that  the  state  isn't  stuck  with  the  wait-and-see                                                               
approach.   By allowing airborne  hunting, a tool is  returned to                                                               
the  management toolbox  in  order to  keep  predators in  check.                                                               
Removing  the commissioner  approval  step,  which hasn't  always                                                               
been  present, for  the airborne  activity for  a BOG  authorized                                                               
management  program  assures  that future  administrations  can't                                                               
[oppose]  the board's  finding to  reduce  predators by  airborne                                                               
methods.    Ms.  McLeod-Everette  urged the  passage  of  SB  155                                                               
Number 2434                                                                                                                     
TOM SCARBOROUGH  noted that he  is testifying on his  own behalf,                                                               
although he is a member  of various pro-management organizations.                                                               
He reiterated that wildlife is  a valuable resource.  He recalled                                                               
that in the 1980s ADF&G produced  a study which valued each moose                                                               
in   the  amount   of   about  $6,500.      With  inflation   the                                                               
aforementioned would  amount to  over $10,000 today.   Therefore,                                                               
the  decline of  Alaska's wildlife  has cost  the state  probably                                                               
into the  billions.   Mr. Scarborough characterized  SB 155  as a                                                               
step in the  right direction, and therefore he  urged its passage                                                               
to  the   House  floor  without   the  amendment   including  the                                                               
Number 2578                                                                                                                     
JESSE  VANDERZANDEN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor Council                                                               
(AOC), provided the following testimony:                                                                                        
     We represent  about 50 outdoor  clubs for  a collective                                                                    
     membership of  nearly 12,000 Alaskan  hunters, fishers,                                                                    
     trappers, and  public access  advocates.   I appreciate                                                                    
     the opportunity to  testify today in support  of one of                                                                    
     our top  priorities for  this legislative  session, ...                                                                    
     Senate  Bill 155.    I also  appreciate  the folks  who                                                                    
     testified before me in support  of this bill.  They did                                                                    
     a superb job making the case for passage of this bill.                                                                     
     Perhaps it's most appropriate to  start by stating what                                                                    
     this  bill  is not.    It's  not  about fair  chase  or                                                                    
     ethics.   It's  not  about aiding  and abetting  trophy                                                                    
     hunters.   It's not about  fostering, as I've  heard in                                                                    
     previous testimony,  wild-eyed Super  Cub pilots.   And                                                                    
     most important,  it's not  about eliminating  wolves or                                                                    
     even being against predators.   These are popular myths                                                                    
     created by folks who seek  to put wolves on a pedestal,                                                                    
     and by  doing so,  create public  sympathy for  them at                                                                    
     the   expense  of   other  wildlife   species.     This                                                                    
     undermines   the  integrity   of  scientific   wildlife                                                                    
     management  and every  Alaskan  who  wishes to  utilize                                                                    
     wild food for  sustenance.  These myths  can and should                                                                    
     be refuted.  You have an opportunity to do that today.                                                                     
     This  bill  is about  asserting  the  state's right  to                                                                    
     manage wildlife in a scientific  manner for the benefit                                                                    
     of its  citizenry.  It's  about helping the  state meet                                                                    
     its   statutory  and   constitutional  obligations   of                                                                    
     managing  wildlife for  sustained  yield.   It's  about                                                                    
     putting  wildlife management  back  into  the hands  of                                                                    
     professional  managers  who know  it  best  - who  know                                                                    
     population  levels,  predation   impacts,  habitat  and                                                                    
     weather  conditions, use  patterns, and  the myriad  of                                                                    
     factors  that   must  be  accounted  for   in  managing                                                                    
     wildlife for sustained yield.                                                                                              
     This bill is narrow in  focus.  It would limit airborne                                                                    
     or  same  day  airborne predation  management  to  only                                                                    
     those areas  where big  game populations  are depressed                                                                    
     and  where predation  has conclusively  been determined                                                                    
     to be a  factor in that decline.   This management tool                                                                    
     could only  be activated  on 10-20 percent  of Alaska's                                                                    
     lands once  federal lands, closed  areas, urbanization,                                                                    
     and "rocks and ice" are accounted for.                                                                                     
     This bill  requires authorization by the  Board of Game                                                                    
     to  conduct airborne  or  same  day airborne  predation                                                                    
     management within  the context of an  approved wildlife                                                                    
     management  plan.    These plans  are  founded  on  the                                                                    
     recommendations of  professional wildlife  managers and                                                                    
     are  regularly  scrutinized  and commented  on  by  the                                                                    
     public in one of the  most open and deliberative public                                                                    
     processes in the nation.                                                                                                   
     This bill  seeks to  establish consistency  and clarity                                                                    
     regarding  the  commissioner's   role  in  the  board's                                                                    
     process.  Currently,  the commissioner cannot intervene                                                                    
     in the Board of  Fisheries' process unless by emergency                                                                    
     authority.  This authority  is generally only exercised                                                                    
     during  times  of  conservation crisis  resulting  from                                                                    
     unforeseen circumstances  that could  not and  were not                                                                    
     addressed by  the board beforehand.   The authority for                                                                    
     such matters should be consistent  between the Board of                                                                    
     Fisheries and the Board of Game.                                                                                           
     It  should  be recognized  that  airborne  or same  day                                                                    
     airborne  predation  management  is  not  a  widespread                                                                    
     practice,  but  one we  believe  must  be available  to                                                                    
     respond  to ever  changing environmental  and predator-                                                                    
     prey  dynamics.   It's also  available in  nearly every                                                                    
     other   state  in   the   Union   and  given   Alaska's                                                                    
     challenging  geography  and   wildlife  management,  it                                                                    
     should be allowed here.                                                                                                    
     This bill  also ties  predation management  to approved                                                                    
     population  objectives.     These  objectives  seek  to                                                                    
     establish how  many moose and how  many predators could                                                                    
     co-exist  in  a  long-term   sustainable  manner  in  a                                                                    
     certain  area.   Predators are  part of  the management                                                                    
     equation -  they are conserved for,  they are accounted                                                                    
     for, and they  are managed for, not against.   It's not                                                                    
     a question  of how we  manage wolves - it's  a question                                                                    
     of   how  we   manage  wildlife.     These   population                                                                    
     objectives also  account for human harvest;  they must,                                                                    
     if  hunting is  to continue  and if  predator and  prey                                                                    
     populations are to be conserved and maintained.                                                                            
     And  herein  lies the  crux  of  the issue  before  you                                                                    
     today.  We  believe that human harvest  of wildlife for                                                                    
     sustenance is vitally important  and should be factored                                                                    
     into the  wildlife management  equation.   Airborne and                                                                    
     same day  airborne predator management is  an essential                                                                    
     part  of  keeping  that equation  manageable.    Animal                                                                    
     rights groups  opposed to this  bill - quite  frankly -                                                                    
     often do  not believe  human harvest should  be managed                                                                    
     for;   they would  rather discontinue  predator harvest                                                                    
     altogether in favor of  a "natural" predator-prey cycle                                                                    
     void of  human intervention.  By  taking this position,                                                                    
     we  believe  they  relegate food  for  harvest  to  the                                                                    
     lowest common  denominator of  wildlife management.   I                                                                    
     submit to  you that  if the  legislature wants  to talk                                                                    
     about ethics, that's the question.                                                                                         
     We urge you  to put Alaskans who utilize  wild food for                                                                    
     sustenance, who  share a strong conservation  ethic for                                                                    
     nature's  predators and  prey, who  rely on  individual                                                                    
     responsibility  back into  the  management equation  by                                                                    
     passing this  bill out of  committee and sending  it to                                                                    
     the floor.                                                                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 8:50 a.m. to 9:05 a.m.                                                                       
CHAIR MORGAN noted that there are two amendments to be offered.                                                                 
Number 2926                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  moved that  the committee  adopt Amendment                                                               
1, which reads as follows:                                                                                                      
     Page 2, lines 22 and 23:                                                                                                   
          *Sec.2. AS 16.05.783 is amended by adding a new                                                                       
     subsection to read:                                                                                                        
               (e) When the Board of Game authorizes a                                                                          
     predator  control  program  that includes  airborne  or                                                                    
     same day  airborne shooting, the board  shall establish                                                                    
     predator  reduction  objectives   and  limits  and  the                                                                    
     methods and means to be  employed.  Authorized predator                                                                
     control  programs   shall  be   carried  out   only  by                                                                
     Department of Fish and Game employees.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON objected.                                                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA explained  that  Amendment  1 attempts  to                                                               
address  what  she and  her  constituents  feel  to be  the  most                                                               
problematic part of this issue.                                                                                                 
TAPE 03-19, SIDE B                                                                                                            
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA related  that  the analysis  that she  has                                                               
reviewed specify  that people have mixed  feelings about predator                                                               
control and there  seems to be a wide disparity  of views on this                                                               
issue.  However, there appears  to be uniform concern with regard                                                               
to having  professionals execute  predator control that  is based                                                               
on  evidence-based scientific  decisions made  with local  input.                                                               
This  amendment  doesn't  speak  to who  should  make  the  final                                                               
Number 2856                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS said  that it seems that if  the desire is                                                               
to hunt the predators, the season could be opened for those.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA agreed that it could be done.                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE SAMUELS remarked  that then there could  just be a                                                               
hunting season  as opposed to  only allowing ADF&G  employees the                                                               
ability to execute predator control.   He related his belief that                                                               
the [predator]  populations could most efficiently  be managed by                                                               
increasing the bag limits.                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON mentioned that  the governor doesn't want                                                               
the type of change [proposed in Amendment 1].                                                                                   
Number 2816                                                                                                                     
SENATOR  SEEKINS said  that the  governor  has specifically  said                                                               
that  he  wants local  involvement  not  department personnel  or                                                               
aircraft  to perform  airborne hunting.    Senator Seekins  noted                                                               
that  it  isn't  uncommon  for there  to  be  certified  airborne                                                               
gunners  throughout the  nation.   Furthermore, properly  trained                                                               
private  citizens  are  as  capable   and  humane  as  department                                                               
personnel.   Moreover, when private individuals  perform this the                                                               
state  doesn't bear  any  expense, although  it  can monitor  the                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA offered an  amendment to Amendment 1, which                                                               
would insert language such that  the bold and underlined language                                                               
would read  as follows:   "Authorized  predator control  same day                                                           
airborne  programs shall  be carried  out only  by Department  of                                                           
Fish and Game employees."                                                                                                   
SENATOR SEEKINS  opined that most  of the communities  outside of                                                               
downtown Anchorage have  no problem with that  because the desire                                                               
is  to have  effective, efficient,  and humane  predator control.                                                               
Senator  Seekins pointed  out that  the federal  Airborne Hunting                                                               
Act  requires  only  that  those   who  participate  be  properly                                                               
permitted or licensed by the controlling state organization.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA turned to  the two statewide initiatives on                                                               
same day airborne  predator control and said that she  has to pay                                                               
attention to those.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON  remarked  that  this  is  a  matter  of                                                               
opinion  with  regard  to  the  process.    He  noted  that  this                                                               
amendment  would  oppose  the  intent  of  the  legislation,  and                                                               
therefore he maintained his objection.                                                                                          
A  roll call  vote was  taken.   Representative  Cissna voted  in                                                               
favor   of   the   adoption   of    Amendment   1   as   amended.                                                               
Representatives Samuels,  Anderson, and Morgan voted  against it.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 1-3.                                                                                 
Number 2557                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE ANDERSON moved that  the committee adopt Amendment                                                               
2, which reads as follows:                                                                                                      
     Page 1, line 9, through page 2, line 17:                                                                                   
          Delete all material and insert the following:                                                                         
               "(1) the Board of Game has determined based                                                                  
     on information provided by the department                                                                              
               (A) in regard to an identified big game prey                                                                 
     population under AS  16.05.255(g) that [COMMISSIONER OF                                                                
     FISH AND GAME ACTING UNDER  A REQUEST FROM THE BOARD OF                                                                    
     GAME MAKES  WRITTEN FINDINGS BASED ON  PREY POPULATION]                                                                    
     objectives  set by  the board  for the  population have                                                                
     not been achieved, [UNDER AS 16.05.255(g) that                                                                         
               [(A)] predation is an important cause for                                                                    
     the failure to achieve the  objectives set by the board                                                                
     [FACTOR  CONTRIBUTING  TO  A   LOW  OR  DECLINING  PREY                                                                    
     POPULATION THAT IS INCONSISTENT  WITH A GAME MANAGEMENT                                                                    
     PROGRAM AUTHORIZED  BY THE BOARD  OF GAME], and  that a                                                                    
     reduction of  predation can  reasonably be  expected to                                                                    
     aid  in the  achievement of  the objectives  [RESULT IN                                                                
     AIDING  AN  INCREASE  IN  THE  PREY  POPULATION  OR  IN                                                                    
     ARRESTING THE DECLINE OF THE PREY POPULATION]; or                                                                          
               (B) that a disease or parasite of a predator                                                                 
                    (i)    is    threatening   the    normal                                                                    
     biological condition of the predator population; or                                                                        
                    (ii) if left untreated, would spread to                                                                     
     other populations; unless [AND]                                                                                        
          (2) the commissioner, within seven days after                                                                     
     adoption  of  the  plan,  determines  in  writing  that                                                            
     [AIRBORNE  OR]  same  day   airborne  shooting  is  not                                                                
     necessary to  achieve the objectives set  [ACCOMPLISH A                                                                
     GAME  MANAGEMENT PROGRAM  AUTHORIZED] by  the Board  of                                                                    
CHAIR MORGAN objected for discussion purposes.                                                                                  
Number 2514                                                                                                                     
MATT ROBUS,  Acting Director, Division of  Wildlife Conservation,                                                               
Alaska  Department of  Fish &  Game, explained  that Amendment  2                                                               
attempts to  offer a compromise  between the original SB  155 and                                                               
HB  208.    There  were   proposals  for  some  fairly  technical                                                               
adjustments  to the  current  statute in  order  to overcome  the                                                               
difficulty  of having  the commissioner  go  through the  finding                                                               
process  at the  request  of  the BOG  for  the McGrath  predator                                                               
control program that  BOG forwarded to the  department.  However,                                                               
the legislation  has changed  into a much  broader change  of the                                                               
existing same day airborne statute.   Mr. Robus acknowledged that                                                               
Senator Seekins and  his staff have been good  about working with                                                               
the department and modifying some  language.  However, whether or                                                               
not  the  commissioner  will  retain   a  role  in  generating  a                                                               
predation control  program that  involves aerial methods  or same                                                               
day airborne methods  remains.  The main  reason the commissioner                                                               
doesn't have  a role  in the current  bill is  because currently,                                                               
the commissioner can  receive a request from the  board and never                                                               
make a  finding.  Furthermore,  the commissioner doesn't  have to                                                               
give a reason for not making the finding.                                                                                       
MR. ROBUS  explained that Amendment  2 specifies that  a predator                                                               
control program would go forward  unless the commissioner, within                                                               
a seven-day  window after  the board  takes action,  justifies in                                                               
writing why  [the action] should  not occur.   The administration                                                               
believes the  aforementioned would  prevent the  indefinite delay                                                               
of   a  program   while  allowing   the   commissioner  and   the                                                               
administration  as a  whole  to  have a  role  in finalizing  the                                                               
predator control programs.                                                                                                      
Number 2344                                                                                                                     
SENATOR SEEKINS expressed concern  with the following language of                                                               
Amendment 2:   "unless [AND]  (2) the commissioner,  within seven                                                       
days  after adoption  of  the plan,  determines  in writing  that                                                       
[AIRBORNE  OR] same  day airborne  shooting is  not necessary  to                                                           
achieve the objectives set [ACCOMPLISH  A GAME MANAGEMENT PROGRAM                                                           
AUTHORIZED] by the Board of  Game."  The language doesn't specify                                                               
that the commissioner has to publish  findings as to why same day                                                               
airborne shooting  isn't necessary, which isn't  a scientifically                                                               
based program,  he opined.   Senator Seekins then  drew attention                                                               
to  a  document  in  the committee  packet  entitled  "ACTIVATION                                                               
POINTS FOR  AN AIRBORNE  PREDATOR CONTROL  PLAN" and  pointed out                                                               
that  the   process  is   extensive  and   requires  departmental                                                               
participation, and thereby the  commissioner, through his people,                                                               
is involved  in the  entire process.   Furthermore, it's  an open                                                               
public  process.   Senator  Seekins  pointed  out that  paragraph                                                               
number three on  the document entitled "ACTIVATION  POINTS FOR AN                                                               
AIRBORNE  PREDATOR CONTROL  PLAN" specifies  that the  board must                                                               
determine that  the objectives established  by the  board haven't                                                               
been achieved, predation  is an important cause,  and a reduction                                                               
of  predation  could  reasonably  be   expected  to  aid  in  the                                                               
achievement of  the objectives.   The  aforementioned information                                                               
would  be  provided  by degreed  scientists  in  the  department.                                                               
Therefore,  Senator  Seekins  opined  that there  are  plenty  of                                                               
avenues  for  the  commissioner's  input  regarding  whether  the                                                               
program would  be necessary  or not.   He  said that  he couldn't                                                               
agree  with the  language in  Amendment 2  because it  interjects                                                               
politics.   However, Senator Seekins informed  the committee that                                                               
during the  earlier at-ease  he spoke  with the  governor's staff                                                               
and  agreed to  continue  to review  additional information  such                                                               
that an emergency  method could be developed.   Without Amendment                                                               
2, the current  program assures that any decision  to activate an                                                               
airborne program is based on the best available science.                                                                        
Number 2127                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked  if there is any way  to add language                                                               
to  Amendment 3  that  would answer  Senator Seekins'  hesitation                                                               
because the  buck ultimately  stops with  the commissioner.   She                                                               
said it seems like a good idea to include the commissioner.                                                                     
SENATOR  SEEKINS  pointed  out  that  no  other  place  in  ADF&G                                                               
regulations does a commissioner have  veto power; it was done for                                                               
political purposes.   Furthermore,  the Alaska Supreme  Court has                                                               
ruled that  the commissioner cannot  effectively veto  a decision                                                               
by the Board of Fisheries.   Senator Seekins highlighted that the                                                               
governor appoints  the Board of Game  who have to be  approved by                                                               
the  legislature.   If the  board is  given this  responsibility,                                                               
shouldn't it  also have the  authority to  carry out its  job, he                                                               
asked.  Senator Seekins pointed  out that although he understands                                                               
the governor's  concern, the  legislature can  act to  correct an                                                               
abuse.  However,  he didn't believe that the BOG  would put forth                                                               
an  ill-conceived airborne  control program  and the  legislature                                                               
wouldn't allow  that to happen.   Senator Seekins opined  that if                                                               
the  governor was  able  to show  that something  was  done on  a                                                               
scientifically unsound basis or  that the process wasn't followed                                                               
correctly, then  [the administration] could  go to court  to stop                                                               
it.   Senator Seekins said that  he wouldn't have a  problem with                                                               
having an  emergency order  option to stop  a program  that isn't                                                               
based on sound science.                                                                                                         
MR. ROBUS  said that [the  department] is willing to  continue to                                                               
work with Senator Seekins and the administration on this issue.                                                                 
SENATOR SEEKINS  announced that  he would  continue to  work with                                                               
the chair of the House Rules Standing Committee.                                                                                
Number 1851                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA inquired as to  how much testimony has been                                                               
heard on [the issue encompassed in] Amendment 2.                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS  answered  that  in  the  Senate  there  was  no                                                               
testimony  on a  [similar amendment],  although it  was proposed.                                                               
He  noted that  [the similar  amendment] was  rejected.   He said                                                               
that there was  extensive testimony on [the  issue encompassed in                                                               
Amendment  2] in  the  House Resources  Standing  Committee.   He                                                               
recalled that at  least 99 percent of the testimony  has not been                                                               
in favor of Amendment 2.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA asked  if there  is anyone  who wished  to                                                               
testify on Amendment 2.                                                                                                         
MS.  KEELER said  that she  would like  to specifically  speak to                                                               
Amendment 2.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   ANDERSON   cautioned  [allowing   testimony   on                                                               
Amendment 2]  because if  everyone who  testified was  allowed to                                                               
speak  to  each  amendment  before  the  committee,  a  committee                                                               
couldn't get through  even one piece of  legislation.  Therefore,                                                               
he  suggested  that  Ms.  Keeler  not  be  allowed  to  speak  to                                                               
Amendment 2 otherwise everyone would  have to be allowed to speak                                                               
on Amendment 2 and every other amendment.                                                                                       
CHAIR MORGAN agreed with Representative  Anderson and related his                                                               
belief  that  Amendment  2  has  had  ample  discussion  in  this                                                               
committee and the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  said that she hasn't  heard any testimony,                                                               
save the department, on Amendment 2.                                                                                            
SENATOR SEEKINS  recalled that  he heard  several members  of the                                                               
Board of  Game testify in  opposition to  Amendment 2 as  well as                                                               
the  representative  of  AOC  and  a couple  of  folks  from  the                                                               
Fairbanks Legislative Information Office.                                                                                       
CHAIR MORGAN reiterated his belief  that Amendment 2 has received                                                               
ample discussion.   He noted  that he believes those  on-line and                                                               
off-net did  know about Amendment  2.  He reminded  the committee                                                               
that  there  is  a  motion   to  adopt  Amendment  2  before  the                                                               
committee.  He maintained his objection to Amendment 2.                                                                         
A roll call  vote was taken.   Representatives Anderson, Samuels,                                                               
and Morgan  voted against it.   Representative  Cissna abstained.                                                               
Therefore, Amendment 2 failed by a vote of 0-3.                                                                                 
The committee took an at-ease from 9:36 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.                                                                      
Number 1504                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  ANDERSON moved  to  report CSSB  155(RES) out  of                                                               
committee with  individual recommendations [and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal  notes].   There  being no  objection,  CSSB 155(RES)  was                                                               
reported from  the House Community and  Regional Affairs Standing                                                               

Document Name Date/Time Subjects