Legislature(2003 - 2004)

03/28/2003 01:05 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 208-HUNTING SAME DAY AIRBORNE                                                                                              
CHAIR FATE  announced that  the final order  of business  would be                                                              
HOUSE BILL  NO. 208, "An Act relating  to hunting on the  same day                                                              
airborne; and providing for an effective date."                                                                                 
Number 1016                                                                                                                     
JIM  POUND,  Staff  to  Representative  Hugh  Fate,  Alaska  State                                                              
Legislature,  testified that  HB 208  would make  some changes  to                                                              
existing  statute in  that it  gives additional  authority to  the                                                              
Board  of Game  to evaluate  the  management of  the resource  for                                                              
sustained   yield,  rather   than  [managing]   on  just   a  prey                                                              
population basis.   He explained that current  statute only allows                                                              
for  this very  limited  means for  making  a determination,  even                                                              
though many  other factors actually  play into a  total evaluation                                                              
of prey situations.                                                                                                             
MR.  POUND  said  the  bill  also   adds  language  to  allow  the                                                              
commissioner of [the  Alaska Department of Fish  and Game (ADF&G)]                                                              
to  permit airborne  or  same-day-airborne  shooting for  predator                                                              
control if  it is determined by  the Board of Game  that predation                                                              
is a key to  the problem.  Currently, this form  of management may                                                              
only be done from  an in-flight, moving aircraft.   Mr. Pound said                                                              
these changes  give  the appointed  experts on  the Board of  Game                                                              
and the  commissioner [of ADF&G]  valuable, effective tools  in an                                                              
effort  to  manage  game  for  sustained  yield.    He  urged  the                                                              
committee to support HB 208.                                                                                                    
Number 0866                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE  asked if an  agent of ADF&G would  be doing                                                              
the shooting and how the agent would be defined and chosen.                                                                     
MR. POUND  offered his  understanding that it  could either  be an                                                              
agent  of  ADF&G  or  an  individual   who  is  permitted  by  the                                                              
commissioner; it would be a special permit.                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE  asked for  clarification  regarding  those                                                              
responsible  for  doing  the  shooting.    She  said  this  really                                                              
concerned her.                                                                                                                  
Number 0761                                                                                                                     
BLAINE  HOLLIS,  Assistant  Attorney  General,  Natural  Resources                                                              
Section,  Civil  Division  (Juneau),   Department  of  Law  (DOL),                                                              
testified that  with regard to the  agency issue, [DOL's]  view is                                                              
that it  really doesn't change  the status quo  on that.   He said                                                              
with regard  to the  two changes  to the  bill, one would  clarify                                                              
whether  both land-and-shoot  and airborne  shooting are  allowed,                                                              
whereas currently  there is some question about  whether land-and-                                                              
shoot would be allowed.   He said DOL's view is  that probably the                                                              
best  reading of  the current  statute  is that  both are  allowed                                                              
currently,  but  the   bill  would  clarify  that   and  remove  a                                                              
potential ambiguity  from the statute, clarifying  that both types                                                              
of predator control,  land-and-shoot and aerial,  are available to                                                              
the department pursuant to subsection (a).                                                                                      
MR. HOLLIS said  the second change that the bill  would make is to                                                              
clarify  that in  addition  to  just considering  prey  population                                                              
objectives,  the  board and  the  department  could also  look  at                                                              
harvest objectives  and the  other objectives  that are  specified                                                              
in  AS 16.05.255(g),  whereas currently  there  is some  ambiguity                                                              
about  whether   they  are  just   limited  to  looking   at  prey                                                              
populations   or   whether   they  may   also   consider   harvest                                                              
objectives.   The bill  would make  those two clarifications,  but                                                              
it doesn't  really go to the  question - assuming that  a predator                                                              
control  program is  implemented  under subsection  (a)  - of  who                                                              
could engage in it.                                                                                                             
MR. HOLLIS  said the  language in  the statute currently  provides                                                              
that a person may.   It is [DOL's] reading of  the statute, in its                                                              
current  form,  that   it  is  not  limited  just   to  department                                                              
employees,  and that  if  a program  were  instituted pursuant  to                                                              
[subsection] (a),  the department could authorize  agents or other                                                              
persons to participate in such a program.                                                                                       
CHAIR  FATE, sponsor  of HB  208, offered  his understanding  that                                                              
[persons  participating in  the program]  would be  agents of  the                                                              
MR. HOLLIS,  in response, said that's  if it's how  the department                                                              
structures it.                                                                                                                  
Number 0592                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE  said this is a very big thing  to her.  She                                                              
asked who those  persons [participating in the  program] would be,                                                              
how many there would be, and how often they could participate.                                                                  
MR. HOLLIS,  in response,  said the reality  is that  the statute,                                                              
in its current  form, doesn't really limit that,  and [DOL's] view                                                              
is  to largely  leave  that to  the  department  to determine  and                                                              
fashion  an appropriate  predator-control program  to address  the                                                              
needs.   There  is  a  limitation in  the  second section  of  the                                                              
statute,  to   just  department   employees,  but  that's   for  a                                                              
different  type  of  program;  that's  a  separate  type  of  game                                                              
management  program.    The type  of  program  contemplated  under                                                              
subsection  (a)  is really  two  different  ways of  dealing  with                                                              
predator   control.     Under  current   law,  only   departmental                                                              
employees  are  allowed  to engage  in  management  programs  that                                                              
involve aerial shooting  without going through all  kinds of steps                                                              
that  are  outlined  in [subsection]  (a),  but  [subsection]  (a)                                                              
contains no limitation  on who may participate.  He  said in DOL's                                                              
view, it  essentially leaves  it to the  department and  the board                                                              
to  structure a  program  to meet  the  appropriate  needs on  the                                                              
ground at the time.                                                                                                             
Number 0478                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF offered  his  understanding that  one of  the                                                              
former  governors  of Alaska  used  to  be  an agent  in  predator                                                              
control for aerial  wolf hunting.  He  said it was set  up at that                                                              
time  to  be  done  through  an   agent  that  worked  within  the                                                              
department.   Representative Wolf  related his understanding  that                                                              
the department,  commissioner, and  Board of  Game would  have the                                                              
ability to structure  it as an agent for the department  who would                                                              
be authorized to engage in predator control through this bill.                                                                  
MR. HOLLIS  suggested that  the statute in  its current  form does                                                              
that; he  said he doesn't  think the bill  changes that.   The two                                                              
things  that the  bill  seeks to  change don't  really  go to  the                                                              
question  of whether  an  agent may  participate  in the  program.                                                              
The two  changes in the  bill go to  the following:   one, whether                                                              
the shooting  can be  both land-and-shoot and  aerial or  just one                                                              
of them;  and, two,  the type  of population  objectives that  the                                                              
board  and the  department  can look  at  in deciding  whether  to                                                              
implement  [such a  program].   Neither  of  those changes  really                                                              
addresses  who  may  participate  in  the  program.    Mr.  Hollis                                                              
offered  his view  that current  law  would be  unchanged by  this                                                              
bill with regard to that issue.                                                                                                 
Number 0316                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  LYNN asked  if there  is a provision  in the  bill                                                              
regarding the harvesting  of pelts from animals  shot through this                                                              
program, and if  so, who would own those pelts.   He indicated his                                                              
concern is that the pelts are not wasted.                                                                                       
MR.  HOLLIS  said he  didn't  think  those issues  were  addressed                                                              
either in the bill or in current statute.                                                                                       
CHAIR FATE  said it isn't addressed  in this bill or meant  to be.                                                              
He said he  suspected it would  probably be dealt with  another by                                                              
another section of the statute.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN  asked if this subject was  covered in another                                                              
CHAIR FATE  answered  that it will  be covered  because there  are                                                              
other  statutes  that  cover  the   treatment  of  hides  and  the                                                              
trapping  and sealing of  those hides,  but they  are not  in this                                                              
particular section.                                                                                                             
Number 0180                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE   GATTO   turned   attention   to  page   2,   sub-                                                              
subparagraphs (i) and  (ii).  He asked if there  are diseases that                                                              
can spread from predators to prey or if that would be unusual.                                                                  
MR. HOLLIS deferred the question to ADF&G.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  remarked,  "If  the answer  was  yes,  then                                                              
would  it  be  a  situation  where  we  would  want  to  eliminate                                                              
predator and prey to eliminate the disease ...."                                                                                
MR. HOLLIS  said he  really didn't  know the  answer to  that, but                                                              
it's not  an issue that  is affected by this  bill.  He  said that                                                              
is a reflection of current law and it wouldn't be changed.                                                                      
Number 0093                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO said  another  way to  control predators  is                                                              
with [Compound]  1080, a poison  used in bait.   He asked  if that                                                              
was still in use, prohibited, or no longer available.                                                                           
MR. HOLLIS said he didn't know.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO  said  it  was  pretty  effective  but  also                                                              
pretty devastating  in that predators would lose  their hair, walk                                                              
in circles, whine and yell, and then die a miserable death.                                                                     
Number 0004                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG asked  if  the bill  allows the  public                                                              
[to participate] in same-day-airborne shooting.                                                                                 
TAPE 03-20, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
MR. HOLLIS,  in response, said  his view  is that the  law already                                                              
allows that.   This  bill would clarify  that a person  authorized                                                              
pursuant  to  an  appropriate  program   could  either  engage  in                                                              
shooting from the  air or could engage in land-and-shoot,  if that                                                              
were  deemed  necessary  and  appropriate.     He  said  the  bill                                                              
clarifies that both  options are available for  a predator-control                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  asked if Ballot Measure 6,  voted on in                                                              
[2000], would be contradicted or overturned by this bill.                                                                       
Number 0109                                                                                                                     
MR. HOLLIS  said he  thought people  who may  testify later  would                                                              
say so, but that  is not [DOL's] view.  He said  his understanding                                                              
is that  the 2000  referendum did  not affect  subsection (a);  it                                                              
affected  only subsection  (b), a  different  approach that  would                                                              
authorize departmental  employees to  engage in airborne  predator                                                              
control without  having to go through  all of the  steps specified                                                              
in subsection (a).   The 2002 referendum removed  the word "agent"                                                              
from  that   section,  he  said;   although  prior  to   the  2000                                                              
referendum,   subsection  (b)  authorized   not  only   department                                                              
employees  but also  agents of the  department  to engage in  that                                                              
type of activity  under subsection (b), and it removes  that.  Mr.                                                              
Hollis said DOL's  view is that removing that  essentially created                                                              
the  situation whereby  only  departmental  employees can  operate                                                              
under subsection (b),  but it didn't impose any  limitation on who                                                              
a person is under subsection (a).                                                                                               
Number 0217                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  asked how  [ADF&G]  has used  subsection                                                              
(a) historically.                                                                                                               
MR. HOLLIS deferred the question to [ADF&G].                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  asked   if  the  historic  use  of  that                                                              
section would play  any part in the determination  of whether this                                                              
bill might run up against the initiative [as a matter of law].                                                                  
MR. HOLLIS  remarked,  "No; ... more  than two  years has  passed.                                                              
... There's  a couple  of ways of  looking at it.   You  could say                                                              
it's only  an amendment  or even  if it were  somehow viewed  as a                                                              
referral, it's been more than two years."                                                                                       
Number 0274                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA asked,  if  it were  inside the  two-year                                                              
period, whether  the courts  would look at  the historic  facts of                                                              
how  the  department  had  used  [subsection]  (a)  to  make  that                                                              
MR. HOLLIS,  in response,  said the  court would  look at  factors                                                              
like how  the department  had implemented  the section  in perhaps                                                              
discerning the  intent of the statute.   He said he was  unsure of                                                              
whether  [the court]  would  look  at that  in  terms of  deciding                                                              
whether the constitutional  limitation on amending  or repealing a                                                              
referendum is implicated.                                                                                                       
CHAIR  FATE said  because of  time  constraints, public  testimony                                                              
would not  be closed  during this meeting  and would  be continued                                                              
during the next hearing on the bill.                                                                                            
Number 0476                                                                                                                     
DOROTHY KEELER  testified in opposition  to HB 208.   She provided                                                              
the following testimony:                                                                                                        
     It's hard  to believe  that this  hearing is not  taking                                                                   
     place in the  1800s, when the only good wolf  was a dead                                                                   
     wolf.   Fortunately,  the  world population  has  become                                                                   
     better  educated  since  then  and we  are  counting  on                                                                   
     their revulsion  of what this bill allows  to end aerial                                                                   
     predator control  with a tourism  boycott, just  like it                                                                   
     did in 1993.                                                                                                               
     My   husband,  Leo,   was   on  the   McGrath   Adaptive                                                                   
     Management  Team, and has all  the studies [ADF&G]  paid                                                                   
     for  that did  not support  predator control.   We  both                                                                   
     felt it  odd that none of  those studies were  posted on                                                                   
     the ADF&G web  site.  Rest assured, however:   the media                                                                   
     can find them posted on ours.                                                                                              
     John  Blackstone  from  CBS   News,  "Eye  on  America,"                                                                   
     covered  our  work to  protect  the McNeil  River  bears                                                                   
     twice  in 1995.   He  covered  our work  to protect  the                                                                   
     Toklat wolves  in 1999, and  stories of that  effort are                                                                   
     still  posted on  the  CBS News  web  site.   He  stands                                                                   
     ready to help us spread the word on this.                                                                                  
     I am currently  freelancing for CBS News.   That's why I                                                                   
     have  filmed,  on  TV-quality   broadcast  video,  every                                                                   
     Board  of Game  meeting  and testimony  concerning  that                                                                   
     issue.   That is  why I  am filming  this hearing as  we                                                                   
     speak.   That is why  we created a  web site devoted  to                                                                   
     this issue  and have showcased  it on four of  our other                                                                   
     web  sites,  two  of which  currently  rival  the  daily                                                                   
     traffic of KTUU, Channel 2, web site.                                                                                      
Number 0641                                                                                                                     
     Since reason  and logic have apparently  been abandoned,                                                                   
     we are fighting  this with the only weapon left  to us -                                                                   
     world  opinion.    Are  you   really  prepared  for  the                                                                   
     tourism  boycott  that  your  actions  are  leading  to?                                                                   
     This  bill, if enacted,  will launch  a tourism  boycott                                                                   
     that  will make  the  one in  1993 tame  by  comparison,                                                                   
     crippling our fragile economy.                                                                                             
     Actually, due  to the speed  and reach of the  Internet,                                                                   
     and  the studies by  ADF&G that  prove that  overhunting                                                                   
     is  the cause  of the  decline -  and just  look at  the                                                                   
     bull-cow ratio  in McGrath to  verify that - I  feel the                                                                   
     outcome will be swifter and far more damaging.                                                                             
     Choosing  to start  predator control  to increase  moose                                                                   
     numbers  is  like  using DDT  to  increase  crop  yield.                                                                   
     Both  are guaranteed  to work  for the  short term,  but                                                                   
     the   long-term    consequences,   both    planned   and                                                                   
     unexpected, will  not be worth the cost.   The worldwide                                                                   
      traveling public will see to that.  However, it's not                                                                     
        too late to void this fiasco.  I urge you to vote                                                                       
MS. KEELER,  in response to a  question from Chair Fate,  said she                                                              
and her  husband are wildlife  photographers who  have specialized                                                              
in  filming the  Toklat wolves,  the McNeil  River bears,  [other]                                                              
bears,  eagles,   and  wolves  throughout  Alaska.     Ms.  Keeler                                                              
clarified  that  she  was  referring  to  her  and  her  husband's                                                              
photographic work.                                                                                                              
Number 0798                                                                                                                     
ROD ARNO  testified.  Mr.  Arno noted that  he has been  attending                                                              
the Board  of Game [meetings] for  the last 10  years representing                                                              
the Alaska  Outdoor Council,  and has  been a professional  hunter                                                              
for  the  last 30  years.    Expressing  support  for HB  208,  he                                                              
suggested  the   bill  will  help   the  state  achieve   economic                                                              
stability  through  resource  development   while  increasing  the                                                              
opportunity  for  29,000  Alaskan  hunters to  provide  moose  for                                                              
their families to eat.                                                                                                          
MR.  ARNO  said  the  change  from  prey  population's  being  the                                                              
"trigger"  to  harvest   objectives  -  as  well   as  those  prey                                                              
population objectives  - is important for the Board  of Game.  For                                                              
example,  10  years ago,  GMU  [Game  Management  Unit] 13  had  a                                                              
population  of approximately 23,000  moose; after  10 years  of no                                                              
predator  control   that  population  has  fallen   below  10,000.                                                              
Furthermore,  he   said  under  AS  16.05.255(g)   the  population                                                              
objective is set between 20,000 and 25,000 moose for that area.                                                                 
MR. ARNO said  the problem of just going by  population objectives                                                              
is  the difficulty  in counting  each  moose.   He suggested  that                                                              
this  bill  would make  it  much  easier  to record  the  reported                                                              
harvest.   He said the  reported harvest  objective for GMU  13 is                                                              
from 1,200  to 2,000 moose, whereas  the average 10 years  ago for                                                              
GMU 13 was 921  moose.  Today, he said, that's  fallen down to 430                                                              
[moose],  which  is below  the  level  that the  board  determined                                                              
necessary of  600 [moose] for  subsistence use.   Furthermore, the                                                              
board estimates  3,000 subsistence moose  hunters in GMU  13 [will                                                              
be  competing for]  150 subsistence  permits.   He suggested  that                                                              
the bill  will provide a  better record for  the Board of  Game to                                                              
recognize that those harvest objectives are not being met.                                                                      
Number 1005                                                                                                                     
MR.  ARNO  said  since  the  Knowles  Administration  stopped  all                                                              
predator control,  56 percent of moose populations  identified for                                                              
intensive management  by the  board are  declining.  He  suggested                                                              
it was  important for  the legislature and  for Alaskan  voters to                                                              
keep in  mind the fact  that airborne  wolf hunting and  land-and-                                                              
shoot wolf-hunting  tools are  banned in 60  percent of  the state                                                              
because of  federal laws;  he said there's  another 20  percent of                                                              
the  state where  predator control,  due  to habitat  limitations,                                                              
urban  centers,  and economic  infeasibility,  "says  we won't  do                                                              
it."  Mr.  Arno indicated that  this bill would provide  the Board                                                              
of  Game with  the  tools to  do  predator-prey  management in  15                                                              
percent of  the state, at  the most.   He suggested  airborne wolf                                                              
control and land-and-shoot  wolf hunting are defensible  tools for                                                              
predator-prey management.   He again  urged the passage of  HB 208                                                              
from committee.                                                                                                                 
Number 1082                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  asked Mr.  Arno  if any  consideration  had                                                              
been given to hunting wolves for bounties.                                                                                      
MR. ARNO  said yes;  in fact, legislation  had been introduced  to                                                              
do  just that.   He  noted that  bounty hunting  existed prior  to                                                              
statehood,  and that he  had been  hunting since  1966.   Mr. Arno                                                              
said  prior to  the  board's ban  on land-and-shoot  [hunting]  in                                                              
1991,  what  worked  adequately  was  having  trapper's  licenses,                                                              
liberal bag  limits, and seasons in  place to allow persons  to go                                                              
out in  their own  aircraft and  do land-and-shoot  hunting.   Mr.                                                              
Arno  said those  hides  were  sold for  up  to $400  each,  which                                                              
adequately  paid  for those  few  people  who were  proficient  at                                                              
land-and-shoot  wolf hunting.   Until  the  land-and-shoot ban  in                                                              
1991,  he  said  that method  alone,  without  the  bounties,  was                                                              
enough to keep wolf predation down.                                                                                             
Number 1225                                                                                                                     
ROBERT  FITHIAN, Executive  Director,  Alaska Professional  Hunter                                                              
Association,  testified  that  the   [hunting]  industry  annually                                                              
contributes  well   over  $100  million   to  Alaska.     He  said                                                              
Article I,  Section  1,  of the  state  constitution  defines  the                                                              
inherent rights  of the state's  citizens, including the  right to                                                              
life, liberty, happiness,  and the rewards of their  own industry;                                                              
it also states  that all persons  are equal and entitled  to equal                                                              
rights.    Furthermore,  it  closes  with  a  statement  that  all                                                              
persons  have  corresponding  obligations  to the  people  of  the                                                              
state.   He  remarked, "It's  very unique  to see  that the  first                                                              
section of  our constitution lays  out our rights but  then closes                                                              
with a stewardship requirement for us."                                                                                         
MR.  FITHIAN  read  Article  VIII,   Sections  3  and  4,  to  the                                                              
committee.   He  remarked,  "It's  sad to  sit  and  look back  on                                                              
Alaska and  see where  the tides  of special interests  advocating                                                              
for  environmentalism  by  regulatory  strangulation  and  natural                                                              
science  have taken  us to."   He suggested  this has  contributed                                                              
much to  the lack  of natural  resource economy,  to pitting  user                                                              
groups against  each other, and  to the decay  of the way  of life                                                              
of the people  that depend on the state's wilderness  and wildlife                                                              
resources to sustain themselves.                                                                                                
MR.  FITHIAN said  these  tides have  also left  a  high mark  for                                                              
nonprudent  stewardship of  the state's resources.   He  suggested                                                              
that it is important  [for user groups] to turn  together and work                                                              
to  help cement  policies  for  governing  the industry  based  on                                                              
common  use, proven  science,  and  constitutional  mandates.   He                                                              
suggested that  it is important to  note that in  any geographical                                                              
areas of the state  where the survival rate of  moose, caribou, or                                                              
Dall  sheep  born  annually  falls below  10  percent,  there's  a                                                              
minimal chance at recoupment of these species.                                                                                  
MR. FITHIAN  told members  that the end  result of this  situation                                                              
is that status  quo management policies will continue  to pit user                                                              
groups against each  other, and people dependent  on wildlife will                                                              
be the losers.   He said HB 208 is a start in  the right direction                                                              
to relieve  this situation and is  not just a bill  that adversely                                                              
affects  the  wolves of  Alaska.    The  population of  wolves  in                                                              
Alaska  has never  been threatened  or  endangered, he  suggested.                                                              
Urging the  committee to  support and  pass the  bill, he  said HB
208 provides sustainability  to Alaska's residents  and the people                                                              
who depend on wildlife resources as a way of life.                                                                              
Number 1425                                                                                                                     
CHAIR  FATE announced  that HB  208 would  be held  over and  that                                                              
public testimony would resume on [4/2/03].                                                                                      

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