Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/09/2003 08:10 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 155-PREDATOR CONTROL/AIRBORNE SHOOTING                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
[Contains discussion of HB 208, the companion bill]                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2014                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE  announced that the  final order of business  would be                                                               
CS FOR  SENATE BILL  NO. 155(RES), "An  Act relating  to predator                                                               
control programs; and providing for an effective date."                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
The committee took an at-ease from 1:40 p.m. to 1:45 p.m.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  asked the  sponsor to explain  changes from                                                               
the original bill version.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 2081                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  RALPH   SEEKINS,  Alaska  State   Legislature,  sponsor,                                                               
explained  that   wolverine  had  been  included   again  at  the                                                               
department's  request.   He told  members, "We  felt that  it was                                                               
important that wolverine,  who can be cumbersome  and probably be                                                               
... at  threat in  the wild  from any  kind of  airborne hunting,                                                               
should be protected."                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  also said  the process  was changed  around such                                                               
that the  Board of Game  would get  input from scientists  in the                                                               
division; would decide to make  this an intensive management area                                                               
under  current  statute;  and then  would  authorize  a  predator                                                               
control  program  that  included airborne  and  same-day-airborne                                                               
shooting.  The board would  have the prerogative to determine who                                                               
the participants  could be, and  should establish  the following:                                                               
predator-reduction objectives, limits, methods  and means; who is                                                               
authorized to  participate; and the conditions  for participation                                                               
of individuals in the program.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said this basically eliminates  "the second bite                                                               
of  the apple"  by  the commissioner.    It is  a  Board of  Game                                                               
process  with   the  best  scientific   input  coming   from  the                                                               
department.  "And once the  department provided that information,                                                               
it  was  not necessary  for  the  commissioner to  recertify  the                                                               
information that  his staff had  already brought to the  board in                                                               
order to make that decision," he  explained.  He opined that this                                                               
decision [under  the bill] will  be as  apolitical as it  can be,                                                               
done by the board members and based on sound science.                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2236                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR   SEEKINS  elaborated   in  response   to  remarks   from                                                               
Representative Wolf:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     What  we're  trying  to  do  here  is,  we  do  have  a                                                                    
     statutorily  appointed  Board  of   Game.  ...  We,  as                                                                    
     trustees, the members of these  bodies, the trustees of                                                                    
     the resources  of the state  of Alaska,  including wild                                                                    
     game, ... have set up  a statutory process in the Board                                                                    
     of Game  so that  they can  look at  and have  a public                                                                    
     process to  take a look at  all of the reasons  ... for                                                                    
     having  methods and  means ...  of harvest,  et cetera,                                                                    
     for wild  game in the  state of Alaska, to  comply with                                                                    
     our  ...  constitutional   requirement  to  manage  for                                                                    
     sustained yield.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     What  we've said  was, those  decisions should  be made                                                                    
     based  on the  best  available science,  should not  be                                                                    
     made based  on politics.   We  should be  managing this                                                                    
     resource scientifically.   So what  we have ...  in our                                                                    
     process today is  testimony that comes to  the Board of                                                                    
     Game,  including testimony  from our  own experts,  our                                                                    
     scientists   that   tell  us   population   objectives,                                                                    
     carrying  capacities,  bull-cow   ratios  -  all  these                                                                    
     things that  can come into  play to determine,  "Are we                                                                    
     meeting the constitutional  mandate for sustained yield                                                                    
     or not; if there's a  problem, then help us to identify                                                                    
     the problem  and show  us" -  and it has  to be  here -                                                                    
     that  the  board shall  have  had  to have  determined,                                                                    
     based  on information  provided  by  the department  in                                                                    
     regard to  ... an  identified big-game  population, ...                                                                    
     that they haven't met the  objectives - that could be a                                                                    
     harvest  objective;  that  could be  ...  a  population                                                                    
     objective; it could  be both on predators or  on prey -                                                                    
     and that a cause for the failure is predation.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 2368                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS continued:                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     It has  to be an identified  cause, scientifically, and                                                                    
     then that ... it's a  reasonable expectation that ... a                                                                    
     predator control  program could aid in  the achievement                                                                    
     of those objectives  that could get us  there. ... Then                                                                    
     they have  to design how  the best possible way  ... to                                                                    
     carry  out  that  ...   predator  reduction  would  be.                                                                    
     There's some  control all the  way through.   And we've                                                                    
     tried very hard  to make sure, then, that  the Board of                                                                    
     Game understands  they just can't  say, "Well,  we need                                                                    
     to  reduce predators  here."   They have  to show  why.                                                                    
     And they  have to show  what the  result will be.   And                                                                    
     then they  have to  establish how many.   They  have to                                                                    
     establish the  methods and means  to be able to  do it,                                                                    
     because  in different  parts  of  the state,  different                                                                    
     types  of methods  and means  can be  effective or  not                                                                    
     effective.   And then  they have  to determine  who can                                                                    
     participate and  then, on top  of that,  the conditions                                                                    
     for participation.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     So we've  said, "Along  with you making  this decision,                                                                    
     you  have  some responsibility  to  the  people of  the                                                                    
     state  of   Alaska  to  make   sure  you're   doing  it                                                                    
     properly."   And  so we're  ... kind  of expanding  not                                                                    
     only the opportunity, but also the responsibility.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     This does  not preclude the department  from being able                                                                    
     to  handle their  own  parallel (indisc.--coughing)  if                                                                    
     they so wish.  This just  allows them to say, "Here's a                                                                    
     problem,  here's a  solution, here's  a way  it can  be                                                                    
     done,"  and to  authorize  private  individuals ...  to                                                                    
     assist,  as [Governor  Murkowski] has  said; he'd  like                                                                    
     local folks  to be able  to carry out ...  the predator                                                                    
     control ... programs as much  as possible.  And I think                                                                    
     that this  accomplishes that, and  it ... keeps  it out                                                                    
     of the political  arena.  Yes, [Board  of Game members]                                                                    
     are   somewhat-political    appointees,   but   they're                                                                    
     confirmed  ... by  these bodies,  and so  they ...  now                                                                    
     would have that decision-making authority.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2474                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO asked about the effect of the bill on the                                                                  
bear population.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  answered, "If  a bear is  a predator,  they have                                                               
the responsibility and the right  to determine ... how to control                                                               
it.  And I believe a bear is  a predator.  In fact, I think bears                                                               
have a greater effect in many  areas on mortality rates for moose                                                               
calves than wolves do."                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2502                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE referred to page  2 [Section 2].  She asked                                                               
whether  the Board  of Game  will have  authority over  all this,                                                               
including "who can shoot, who can  fly," and what methods will be                                                               
used.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS answered  in the  affirmative.   He said  that's                                                               
consistent with [the board's] authority  in statute now, and this                                                               
is a reiteration  of other rights and responsibilities  it has in                                                               
statute.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2546                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE asked  Senator  Seekins for  clarification                                                               
about the numbers relating to wolf and moose populations.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS offered an example  from Game Management Unit 13.                                                               
Pointing  to an  area  on  a wall  map,  he  mentioned the  Parks                                                               
Highway, Denali  Highway, Richardson Highway, and  Glenn Highway,                                                               
saying it's basically contained  within that boundary between the                                                               
two major population areas of Alaska.  He said:                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     At one  time in  the late '80s,  early '90s,  the moose                                                                    
     population -  the reproductive base of  that population                                                                    
     - was  about 27,000.   Today it's  less than 8,000.   A                                                                    
     number of years  ago, the Board of Game  said, "This is                                                                    
     now  an  intensive  management  area,"  and  authorized                                                                    
     predator  control   programs.    But  under   the  last                                                                    
     administration, for  political reasons stated  that way                                                                    
     - not  assumed -  they decided  not to  do any  kind of                                                                    
     predator control program in there. ...                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     The  harvest by  humans  has stayed  below a  thousand.                                                                    
     Something's killing those animals.   And the biologists                                                                    
     say it's wolves and bears. ...  And they say we need to                                                                    
     have a  predator control program.   The wolf population                                                                    
     is 900-plus roughly, depending on  when you measure it.                                                                    
     The  ceiling that's  been established  by the  board is                                                                    
     around 200.   The  bear population  exceeds 1,500-1,600                                                                    
     grizzly  bears in  that area.   The  population is  way                                                                    
     over the net.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS referred  to charts of wolf  and moose population                                                               
trends for  Unit 13.   He indicated  nothing has been  done other                                                               
than  private   hunting  to  meet  the   department's  population                                                               
objective of 200 wolves.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2698                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  expressed concern about failing  in managing the                                                               
resources that  are Alaskans'  public-trust assets.   He  said 80                                                               
percent  or more  of  moose calves  born in  this  area are  dead                                                               
before  they're  four weeks  old.    Highlighting the  number  of                                                               
predators,  he said  they  can't  even be  counted  and can't  be                                                               
caught  without a  predator control  program  of some  kind.   He                                                               
offered his belief  that the Board of Game has  to authorize this                                                               
because  the  mandate  is  that  the highest  and  best  use,  by                                                               
statute, is for human consumption.  He added:                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     I submit to  you that ... if we were  just to take one-                                                                    
     third of what  we could have produced out  of there, we                                                                    
     would  triple the  harvest  of moose  in  the state  of                                                                    
     Alaska in  the high years  - triple  it.  And  if those                                                                    
     people  from Anchorage  and  Fairbanks  and the  highly                                                                    
     populated  part  of  the  state were  able  to  have  a                                                                    
     reasonable opportunity  to harvest close to  home, they                                                                    
     wouldn't be going to Ruby  or to Rampart or other parts                                                                    
     of  the state  to  hunt.   Not  only  do  we solve  the                                                                    
     problem by  controlling our  populations of  game close                                                                    
     to -- the  problem of managing for  sustained yield, we                                                                    
     take the  pressure off the  rural communities,  which I                                                                    
     think is a  secondary benefit of equal  importance.  So                                                                    
     give people a  chance to harvest close to  home - we'll                                                                    
     solve some of the other issues of the state as well.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said it's  a real problem  and that  nobody will                                                               
dispute these numbers  from the department, which  are taken from                                                               
their own  reports.  He noted  that for some, the  trend has been                                                               
"extended one year," but said  they're straight-line trends, with                                                               
no reason to believe it won't continue.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2900                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE asked  about gestation  periods for  moose                                                               
and wolves, and how many young are born a year.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  answered that there  is a high twinning  rate in                                                               
moose, though  he didn't  have the figures,  and said  wolves can                                                               
have three to six  or more pups up to twice a year.   In Unit 13,                                                               
"from myself  and other  people who  do hunt  and travel  in Unit                                                               
13," he said  it is rare to  see a moose calf  that survives into                                                               
the fall.                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-42, SIDE B                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                              
SENATOR  SEEKINS   said  these  populations  are   always  either                                                               
declining or increasing.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 2940                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF voiced  wholehearted support  for the  bill.                                                               
He  said Alaska's  constitution clearly  states and  explains the                                                               
sustained yield  principle for maximum  benefit of  the residents                                                               
of  Alaska.    He  remarked   that  this  bill  isn't  a  hunting                                                               
opportunity, but a predator control program.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  said by  telling the  Board of  Game it  has the                                                               
right to determine who participates,  "we would believe that they                                                               
would have  the responsibility to  make sure that the  people who                                                               
did  it  were responsible  people,  not  just  opening it  up  to                                                               
anybody."   He reported  that he'd  met the  day before  with two                                                               
members of  the department, another  Senator, and a man  from the                                                               
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).   Senator Seekins said the                                                               
USDA  has a  division or  office that  assists other  states with                                                               
predator control, and  that the man is a  certified aerial gunner                                                               
who  said  other  Western states  use  airborne-hunting  predator                                                               
control programs.  Citing the idea  of taking care of the problem                                                               
efficiently, effectively,  and humanely, Senator  Seekins offered                                                               
his belief that this can be done with [SB 155].                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
Number 2815                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked why  the governor doesn't do this                                                               
predator control now.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  answered that the current  statute says predator                                                               
control can only  be based on the prey  population objective, and                                                               
then must  be certified  by the commissioner.   This  bill allows                                                               
the Board  of Game  to use  all population  objectives, including                                                               
harvest objectives.  He explained:                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
       You may have a population objective that's fairly                                                                        
      stable, but you're not able to harvest anything for                                                                       
     human   use  because   it's   being  overharvested   by                                                                    
     predators.   But under the  current law, you  could not                                                                    
     do anything  about that.   The McGrath area,  if you'll                                                                    
     recall, was  (indisc.) down.   It had ...  a population                                                                    
     objective  of, let's  say, a  unit of  three, and  they                                                                    
     reduced it  to a unit  of one  so that they  could meet                                                                    
     the  population  objective.   So  now  you couldn't  do                                                                    
     anything until you could show  that the prey population                                                                    
     didn't meet  the objectives.   So we want to  roll back                                                                    
     into  that   the  ability  to   look  at   ...  harvest                                                                    
     objectives as  well as predator  population objectives.                                                                    
     This now  allows them to  look at all  their objectives                                                                    
     and come up with ... a harmonious program.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     And now,  the governor  himself, I  don't know  why the                                                                    
     governor does  not choose  what he does  not do.  ... I                                                                    
     have   not  heard   anyone  from   the  Department   of                                                                    
     Administration say  that it  was based  on any  kind of                                                                    
     scientific principle.   And  so, to  take that  kind of                                                                    
     political pressure  off of any ...  governor, no matter                                                                    
     who it is  that's in office or what  party they're from                                                                    
     in  office, I  think this  should become  an apolitical                                                                    
     and science-based  decision.   By doing that,  we don't                                                                    
     put  anyone in  a  position where  they  have to  worry                                                                    
     about  the  headline  in the  paper  related  to  their                                                                    
     activity; it's as this governor  asked it to be, early,                                                                    
     to be science-based, and as he's  asked it to be, to be                                                                    
     primarily  carried  out  by people  that  live  in  the                                                                    
     communities where it's necessary.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Nowhere  else   in  statute,  on   any  fish   or  game                                                                    
     regulation,  does a  commissioner  or a  member of  the                                                                    
     administration have  any kind  of veto  power ...  on a                                                                    
     program authorized by the board.   And we're now making                                                                    
     this part  of the  statute consistent with  every other                                                                    
     statute.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2665                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GATTO suggested  there  had been  a thought  that                                                               
tourism tended to  drive some decisions.  He referred  to a graph                                                               
relating  to  predator populations  and  noted  that there  is  a                                                               
steady  increase  in  the  predator  population  in  spite  of  a                                                               
declining prey population.   He asked whether  that reflects that                                                               
wolves can get along on other prey and wait.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  replied that if  they're killing  moose, they're                                                               
also killing caribou and will  "eat them down until they're gone,                                                               
and then  they'll start eating each  other."  He said  30 percent                                                               
of wolves killed in Alaska today  are "killed by other wolves for                                                               
dinner."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  offered an editorial  from that  day's Fairbanks                                                             
Daily  News-Miner, saying  it gives  a sense  of how  people from                                                             
Interior Alaska support "science-based control."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF recalled  from high  school that  wolves are                                                               
the only predators  that will eat mud to survive,  because of all                                                               
the nutrients.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 2530                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MATT ROBUS,  Director, Division of Wildlife  Conservation, Alaska                                                               
Department of Fish  & Game, reminded members  that he'd testified                                                               
on the  original HB 208, companion  bill to SB 155,  and had said                                                               
the language  originally proposed  was a  technical tweak  to the                                                               
existing statute  to overcome the issue  that "high-centered" the                                                               
department  and  the Board  of  Game  in  trying to  implement  a                                                               
predation  control program  in the  McGrath area  this year.   By                                                               
contrast, [CSSB 155(RES)]  is now a fairly  substantial change to                                                               
that statute.  He offered the department's view of what it does.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS  addressed Section 1.   He said it allows  the Board of                                                               
Game  to  establish a  predation  control  program that  utilizes                                                               
nondepartment  personnel.   The  existing  statute  has a  fairly                                                               
cumbersome  process whereby  the  Board of  Game  listens to  the                                                               
department  give  its  scientific  information;  crafts  a  draft                                                               
program; then must request that  the commissioner of ADF&G make a                                                               
finding based on  three criteria:  whether  predation is creating                                                               
a  decline  in  the  ungulate population;  whether  reversing  or                                                               
reducing  the predation  will allow  that ungulate  population to                                                               
improve;  and  whether aerial  methods  are  necessary to  reduce                                                               
predation.   Section   1    streamlines   this   process   fairly                                                               
significantly in  that it takes  the commissioner finding  out of                                                               
the process.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROBUS reported  that much  discussion and  debate in  Senate                                                               
committees  related  to  whether  the  executive  branch  retains                                                               
authority to make  decisions on whether programs are  going to be                                                               
implemented.  He told members:                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
      We believe that there is still a significant role in                                                                      
         decision making within the department and the                                                                          
     administration because  this bill  does not  affect the                                                                    
     fiscal  authority of  ... the  commissioner to  run the                                                                    
     department.   And  also there  is  a federal  airborne-                                                                    
     hunting Act that disallows  people from conducting this                                                                    
     type  of  activity unless  the  state  issues a  permit                                                                    
     certifying  that they  are engaged  in  an activity  to                                                                    
     protect  a wildlife  population.   So  the state  still                                                                    
     will have  a significant role,  no matter what  is done                                                                    
     with this statute.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2350                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS turned attention to  Section 2, which also had received                                                               
quite a  bit of discussion.   He said  the Department of  Law has                                                               
advised  [ADF&G]  that   the  Board  of  Game   already  has  the                                                               
authorities listed in Section 2.  He said:                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     We asked  [Senator Seekins], the sponsor  on the Senate                                                                    
     side, to consider making the  language more flexible in                                                                    
     that  we didn't  feel it  was  wise to  have the  board                                                                    
     mandated to  establish all four  of these  things every                                                                    
     time there's  a predation control program.   We thought                                                                    
     that  allowing  some  flexibility would  make  it  more                                                                    
     likely that a program  would actually be implemented by                                                                    
     the executive branch.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS  acknowledged that  Senator Seekins  and his  staff had                                                               
worked with [ADF&G] quite a bit on  Sections 1 and 2.  He offered                                                               
the  belief  that some  pretty  significant  improvements in  the                                                               
language  have been  achieved through  the  committee process  to                                                               
date.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 2306                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS advised  members that the current  version, on balance,                                                               
because the  commissioner is entirely  removed from  the process,                                                               
is  unacceptable  to  the  administration.   He  noted  that  the                                                               
original bill  left the  commissioner in the  process.   With the                                                               
assistance  of  the Department  of  Law,  therefore, [ADF&G]  had                                                               
worked  up  a  possible  amendment  that  is  intended  to  be  a                                                               
"compromise position between those  two poles"; he indicated this                                                               
proposed language had been given to the committee.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS explained the intent  of the proposed amendment:  after                                                               
the Board of  Game comes up with a predation  control program and                                                               
submits  it to  the  department, the  commissioner  would have  a                                                               
finite,  short period  of time  within  which to  justify why  it                                                               
should  not be  carried out;  if no  response was  forthcoming in                                                               
that short  time, the program  would go  forward.  He  added, "We                                                               
think this  addresses the pocket-veto issue  that Senator Seekins                                                               
...  has voiced,  and  which, I  think, based  upon  the way  the                                                               
statute's written, is a valid thing to be concerned about."                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS told members:                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     I want to  emphasize that the situation  at McGrath was                                                                    
     purely a  technical inability  for the  commissioner to                                                                    
     make  a finding,  as requested  by the  Board of  Game,                                                                    
     because  the population  objective for  that particular                                                                    
     moose herd was  reduced as part of  a compromise during                                                                    
     [an]  adaptive wildlife  management  team process  that                                                                    
     was  underway  out  there  several  years  ago,  in  an                                                                    
     attempt to  get some sort  of redress for  the wildlife                                                                    
     management situation in Unit  19D East, where the moose                                                                    
     population is at  low levels and not  recovering and we                                                                    
     judge the predation as a significant reason for it.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FATE asked  that questions  be held  if possible  and that                                                               
testifiers speak for two minutes only.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 2175                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JESSE  VANDERZANDEN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Outdoor Council                                                               
(AOC), began  by saying AOC  represents about 50 outdoor  clubs -                                                               
approximately  12,000  hunters,  fishers,  trappers,  and  public                                                               
access advocates.  Testifying in support  of SB 155, one of AOC's                                                               
top priorities  this session, he  said the bill isn't  about fair                                                               
chase  or  ethics, providing  trophy  moose  hunters with  bigger                                                               
moose racks, eliminating wolves, or  being against predators.  He                                                               
opined that  these are  myths perpetuated by  people who  seek to                                                               
"put wolves on  a pedestal" and thereby create  sympathy for them                                                               
at  the  expense   of  other  wildlife  species;   he  said  this                                                               
undermines  the  integrity  of   wildlife  management  and  every                                                               
Alaskan who wishes to utilize wild food for sustenance.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANDERZANDEN  offered that  the bill  is about  asserting the                                                               
state's right to  manage wildlife in a scientific  manner for the                                                               
benefit of  its citizenry; helping  the state meet  its statutory                                                               
and constitutional  obligations to manage wildlife  for sustained                                                               
yield; and  putting wildlife management  "back into the  hands of                                                               
professional managers  who know  it best -  people in  the field,                                                               
... close  to the ground,  who know what's  going on day  to day,                                                               
year in  and year  out."  He  cited population  levels, predation                                                               
impacts, habitat conditions, other  conditions, use patterns, and                                                               
"a  myriad of  factors that  must  be accounted  for in  managing                                                               
wildlife for sustained yield."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANDERZANDEN  said the narrowly focused  bill limits airborne                                                               
or  same-day-airborne predation  management to  only areas  where                                                               
big-game   populations   are    depressed   and   predation   has                                                               
conclusively been  determined to be  a factor; it  requires Board                                                               
of Game  authorization to  conduct airborne  or same-day-airborne                                                               
management within the context of  an approved wildlife management                                                               
plan founded  upon the recommendations of  professional managers.                                                               
He said  these plans are  regularly scrutinized and  commented on                                                               
by the  public "in one of  the most open and  deliberative public                                                               
processes in the nation."                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR.  VANDERZANDEN indicated  this practice  is available  in most                                                               
states, and should be available  in Alaska, given its challenging                                                               
topography.  He  said it ties predation  management to population                                                               
objectives, which seek to establish  how many moose and predators                                                               
exist in  a long-term sustainable manner  in a certain area.   He                                                               
told members that  predators are part of  the management equation                                                               
- conserved  for, accounted for, and  managed for.  They  are not                                                               
managed against.  It's not a  question of how wolves are managed,                                                               
but how wildlife  is managed.  Noting  that population objectives                                                               
also account  for human  harvest, he concluded,  "We urge  you to                                                               
put Alaskans  who utilize wild  food for sustenance, who  share a                                                               
strong conservation  ethic for nature's  predators and  prey, and                                                               
[who]   rely  on   individual  responsibility,   back  into   the                                                               
management equation by passing this bill today."                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1958                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
DICK BISHOP  testified on his  own behalf  in support of  SB 155,                                                               
which  he said  makes clear,  when allocating  big-game prey  for                                                               
various uses,  that the  buck stops  at the Board  of Game.   The                                                               
board is  bound by the same  sideboards as ADF&G:   wildlife must                                                               
be   managed  on   the  sustained   yield  or   self-perpetuating                                                               
principle,  and sustained  yield includes  hunting and  trapping.                                                               
He said the board and department  are obligated by law to provide                                                               
for "continued,  important hunting  opportunities"; the  board is                                                               
obligated to make  allocations among various uses,  and relies on                                                               
the  department's  data  and professional  advice  regarding  the                                                               
condition  of   the  particular  population  and   what  sort  of                                                               
management would enable the board to meet its obligations.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. BISHOP  said SB 155 provides  authority for the board  to use                                                               
more  of   the  available  management  methods   to  fulfill  its                                                               
responsibilities.     Its  decisions  still  must   be  based  on                                                               
information  and  interpretation   provided  by  the  department;                                                               
implementation  of predator-prey  management through  the use  of                                                               
aircraft  also  requires ADF&G's  cooperation  in  order to  meet                                                               
conditions  of the  federal airborne-hunting  Act.   He said  the                                                               
paradox  in  predator-prey management  is  that  while Alaska  is                                                               
huge, only  10-20 percent is  available for active  management of                                                               
predator-prey systems or even of habitat.  He explained:                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Federal  nonmanagement  on  50  to 60  percent  of  the                                                                    
     state,  state-closed  areas,  urban areas,  and  barren                                                                    
     lands combined  make up 80  to 90 percent of  the state                                                                    
     lands.    But  then  the 20  percent  of  Alaska  where                                                                    
     management can be done  has become critically important                                                                    
     to those  who pursue the Alaskan  tradition of hunting,                                                                    
     whether for food,  for cultural values such  as my own,                                                                    
     or as  guides who make  a living serving  the interests                                                                    
     of our visitors.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  BISHOP  concluded by  saying  SB  155  will help  the  state                                                               
fulfill its  constitutional mandate of managing  on the sustained                                                               
yield principle,  subject to  preferences among  beneficial uses,                                                               
for the maximum benefit of the people.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 1808                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PAUL  JOSLIN, Conservation  Biologist, Alaska  Wildlife Alliance,                                                               
expressed concern that  SB 155 would allow members  of the public                                                               
who can afford it  to again be able to play  "cowboys in the sky,                                                               
chasing wolves  across the landscape."   He said it  is barbaric;                                                               
raises public safety issues; and  is inexcusable, even if done in                                                               
the name  of predator control.   Noting that proponents  of same-                                                               
day-airborne  hunting of  wolves  argue that  it's necessary,  he                                                               
said the opposite is true.  He told members:                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
     We are now  killing more wolves than ever.   And I have                                                                    
     provided  each  of  you  with   copies  of  the  Alaska                                                                    
     Department of  Fish & Game  harvest summary  records on                                                                    
     wolf  take in  Alaska over  the  past 25  years.   From                                                                    
     these records,  you can  see for  yourself that  it has                                                                    
     been steadily increasing, from about  600 wolves a year                                                                    
     to now  over 1,500 wolves  a year, which is  a whopping                                                                    
     increase of nearly 150 percent.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     This trend appears to be  continuing.  In the winter of                                                                    
     2001-2002,  1,741 wolves  were listed  as killed.   The                                                                    
     increase has  come about  largely because  hunters have                                                                    
     better equipment  in the way of  semi-automatic weapons                                                                    
     and  fast, reliable  snow machines  that can  outpursue                                                                    
     any wolf  on open ground.   I attend a lot  of Board of                                                                    
     Game  meetings.    And   having  personally  heard  the                                                                    
     testimony  of  many  snowmachiners  talking  about  the                                                                    
     number of  wolves they take, I'm  especially concerned.                                                                    
     In  one  individual case  I'll  never  forget, ...  the                                                                    
     fellow  bragged  about  how he  single-handedly  chased                                                                    
     after and  shot some 18  wolves.  Pursuing wolves  on a                                                                    
     snow machine is now legal  on about 20 percent of state                                                                    
     land.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOSLIN  said enacting  legislation that  returns Alaska  to a                                                               
time in the  past when there were "cowboys in  the sky" is wrong.                                                               
If anything, legislation should be  enacted to stop the legalized                                                               
but  unfair  chasing of  wolves  on  the  ground and  the  steady                                                               
increase  of killing  of wolves  in  Alaska until  more is  known                                                               
about its impact on Alaska's natural ecosystems.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOSLIN  contended that  this isn't  about logic  and science,                                                               
but  about  dealing with  entrenched  attitudes  about wolves  by                                                               
people  in power.   He  disagreed that  wolves reproduce  twice a                                                               
year, and  he said wolves aren't  vermin.  "The voters  of Alaska                                                               
know that, and  they have told you twice that  they are not about                                                               
to  support you  when  it comes  to allowing  the  public to  use                                                               
aircraft when  it comes to  killing them,"  he said.   "Why isn't                                                               
that message getting through?"                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOSLIN  said Alaska has  lost its preeminent position  as the                                                               
wild-frontier  state  with  the  highest  density  of  wolves  in                                                               
America because of the antiquated  attacks on predators.  He told                                                               
members that  Minnesota, for example, proudly  proclaims that its                                                               
hunting industry is  able to coexist with a  population of wolves                                                               
that is 2.5  times Alaska's per square mile.   He asked that more                                                               
wolf-related education and a whole lot less killing be done.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1537                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JENNA WHITE testified as follows:                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     The   failure   of   a  democratic   government,   when                                                                    
     representatives  of   the  people  vote  in   favor  of                                                                    
     regulations that are  in opposition to the  will of the                                                                    
     people that  elected them:  the  public already clearly                                                                    
     voted to disallow the practice  of aerial and land-and-                                                                    
     shoot hunting of  wolves by the public.   One cannot be                                                                    
     an  expert   on  all  subjects,  and   the  breadth  of                                                                    
     information in  the world today  is overwhelming.   And                                                                    
     the  systems  have  been  devised   so  that  the  most                                                                    
     qualified  individuals  make   decisions  pertinent  to                                                                    
     their area of expertise.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
     Establishment of  regulations that can  have tremendous                                                                    
     impact on  wildlife populations should  be administered                                                                    
     by  biological  professionals.    Nonetheless,  certain                                                                    
     [legislators]  and  Board  of  Game  members  ...  will                                                                    
     acquire personal gain by  acting as wildlife management                                                                    
     professionals.    These  same  individuals  are  active                                                                    
     members  of a  group which  tells that  [moose] numbers                                                                    
     are plummeting by astronomical  accounts.  For example,                                                                    
     it  has  been  claimed  in Unit  13  [that]  the  moose                                                                    
     population  has  dropped  from 27,000  to  7,000  in  a                                                                    
     decade,  and that  in Unit  19D the  moose density  has                                                                    
     fallen from  3 to  4 per  square mile  to 1  per square                                                                    
     mile, a 75 percent reduction.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     It has  further been  stated that this  is not  a fair-                                                                    
     chase issue,  but a scientific  management issue.   And                                                                    
     this  is exactly  the  point:   that  science is  being                                                                    
     manipulated to suit their own  desires.  The scientific                                                                    
     reality  is  that  the true  population  estimates  for                                                                    
     moose and many  species are not known in  most parts of                                                                    
     the  state  because  these surveys  are  expensive  and                                                                    
     time-demanding.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Previous high  estimates of moose numbers  in the 1980s                                                                    
     are pure  speculation based on no  scientific data, and                                                                    
     were  the  result  of long-term  state-  and  privately                                                                    
     sponsored  wolf bounties,  extensive  aerial and  land-                                                                    
     and-shoot killing, and poisoning.   For example, in the                                                                    
     previously mentioned Unit  13, where intensive predator                                                                    
     control has been adopted, ADF&G  biologists do not know                                                                    
     the extent  of the  moose population because  this area                                                                    
     is  very  large   and  encompasses  much  topographical                                                                    
     variation.  And the area simply has not been censused.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 1390                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. WHITE continued:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     But in  a recent  ADF&G discussion item  concerning the                                                                    
     review  of  predator-prey status  in  Unit  13, it  was                                                                    
     stated  that, quote,  there are  about 22,000  moose in                                                                    
     Unit 13 and an overall  density of 0.9 moose per square                                                                    
     mile, or  a density  of 1.4 moose  per square  [mile in                                                                    
     areas]  below 4,000-foot  ... elevation.   And  this is                                                                    
     considered a  relatively high-density  moose population                                                                    
     for Interior habitats.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     This number certainly is not  written in stone.  But it                                                                    
     is  nowhere  near  the   "7,000"  number  purported  by                                                                    
     supporters of this  bill.  The report goes  on to state                                                                    
     that moose populations now  appear comparable to levels                                                                    
     observed in the early  1980s.  Simultaneously, the most                                                                    
     recent  study  showed  that  the  wolf  population  has                                                                    
     decreased  by  some  27  percent in  Unit  13,  due  to                                                                    
     extensive hunting and trapping. ...                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     The real problem is,  ... localized hunting overhunting                                                                    
     has reduced  bull ratios to as  low as 9 bulls  ... per                                                                    
     100 moose in  certain areas.  And this  has reduced the                                                                    
     resiliency   ...   of   the  herd   and   the   overall                                                                    
     availability of moose to take.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS.  WHITE concluded  that overall,  this is  a scientific  issue                                                               
that needs  to be  resolved by  professionals who  have integrity                                                               
and  are looking  out for  the welfare  of wildlife  and habitat,                                                               
instead of "playing politics."                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1279                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
VIC VANBALLENBERGHE told  the committee he is a  former member of                                                               
the Board of Game appointed in  1985 by Governor Sheffield and in                                                               
1996  and  2002  by  Governor  Knowles.    First  discussing  the                                                               
public's using  airplanes to take  wolves, he said that  while he                                                               
was on the  Board of Game in 1985-87, the  board began to address                                                               
problems related to this issue; the  board acted first in 1986 to                                                               
restrict   land-and-shoot  hunting   because  the   practice  had                                                               
numerous problems in relation to  hunters' shooting directly from                                                               
the  air or  hazing  and  harassing wolves,  both  of which  were                                                               
illegal  under state  and federal  law.   He said  that led  to a                                                               
series  of  well-publicized  court  cases in  Alaska  and  public                                                               
outrage over the practice.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANBALLENBERGHE offered his belief  that whether or not land-                                                               
and-shoot  or  same-day-airborne  hunting  is  done  as  predator                                                               
control,  it is  a bad  practice that  the public  still strongly                                                               
opposes.   Highlighting the 1996  initiative and  2000 referendum                                                               
dealing with this  issue, he said they  demonstrated the strength                                                               
of that opposition.  He opined  that passage of this [SB 155] may                                                               
result   in  yet   another  referendum   vote  to   overturn  the                                                               
legislature's action.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.   VANBALLENBERGHE   said,   second,   the   bill   cuts   the                                                               
commissioner, and hence  the governor, out of  decision making on                                                               
wolf  control.   Emphasizing  that  the Board  of  Game isn't  an                                                               
elected body, he said only the  governor, who is elected, can see                                                               
the broad  public policy issues involved  in controversial issues                                                               
like wolf  control and  can make  the ultimate  decision, through                                                               
the commissioner of  ADF&G, as to whether  these practices should                                                               
proceed.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. VANBALLENBERGHE  referred to  Mr. Robus's testimony  and said                                                               
there  is  a  legal  problem  in  that  Public  Law  92-159,  the                                                               
airborne-hunting Act passed by Congress,  requires state fish and                                                               
game agencies, rather  than boards of game, to  issue permits for                                                               
aerial  control.   Thus  [SB 155],  by  overriding that  process,                                                               
generates  some serious  and  perhaps  intractable problems  that                                                               
need to be rectified.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
Number 1031                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT  FITHIAN, Executive  Director, Alaska  Professional Hunter                                                               
Association  (APHA),  who  is  a   master  guide  and  "eco-tour"                                                               
operator,  said APHA  represents Alaska's  oldest tourism-related                                                               
industry,  the guided  sport-hunting industry,  which contributes                                                               
more  than $120  million "new"  dollars to  Alaska each  year and                                                               
contributes  to  ADF&G's  annual  wildlife  conservation  budget.                                                               
Referring to  the state constitution,  Article I,  Section 1, and                                                               
Article VIII, Sections 3 and 4, he told members:                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
     During  the  past decade  we  have  seen a  steady  and                                                                    
     continual  decline  in  the cow  moose  populations  in                                                                    
     Alaska  of  at least  55  percent.   The  annual  calf-                                                                    
     survival rate is under 7  percent.  Only 3.5 percent of                                                                    
     the  surviving calves  are female,  and  fewer of  that                                                                    
     percentage  are  living to  be  of  recruitment age  to                                                                    
     replenish the declining populations.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
     The  average annual  harvest  rate  of moose  statewide                                                                    
     currently is as follows:   86 percent die by predation,                                                                    
     10 percent die  of natural mortality, and  4 percent by                                                                    
     human harvest.   What these  facts prove is that  if we                                                                    
     stopped all human  harvest of moose today,  a year from                                                                    
     now we will still have  fewer moose.  Hunting and human                                                                    
     harvest is having no significant  effect on the state's                                                                    
     moose population.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     Let me  advise you on another  commonly overlooked fact                                                                    
     here.   If  the  facts were  known  regarding our  Dall                                                                    
     sheep and, in many  areas, our caribou populations, and                                                                    
     they  had ...  an  important role  throughout the  main                                                                    
     river  corridor  communities  of  Alaska  as  meat-and-                                                                    
     subsistence species,  you would find that  their plight                                                                    
     is   as  bad   as   our  moose.      It's  a   terrible                                                                    
     representation of the stewardship of these resources.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     It's important for you to  note that during the past 10                                                                    
     years  the nonresident  sportsman has  lost opportunity                                                                    
     to hunt on  over 50 million acres of  public lands that                                                                    
     are  open  to  sport  hunting,  due  to  the  continual                                                                    
     reducing numbers of Alaska's  moose, sheep, and caribou                                                                    
     populations   and   the   mandate's  of   the   state's                                                                    
     subsistence law.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     Only  two times  in the  history of  our state  have we                                                                    
     seen  such detriment  dealt  to  our precious  wildlife                                                                    
     populations as  we have  in the past  15 years.   These                                                                    
     two  instances  were  the near-extinction  of  the  sea                                                                    
     otter by the  Russians and the demise  of Alaska's wild                                                                    
     salmon during the territorial years. ...                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 0846                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. FITHIAN concluded:                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     The  APHA  warrants  that  what  Alaska  will  gain  by                                                                    
     passage  of Senate  Bill 155  and the  administration's                                                                    
     mandates   of    management   of    Alaska's   wildlife                                                                    
     populations for abundance will do  far more benefit for                                                                    
     Alaska's  tourism industries  and ...  the vision  that                                                                    
     the  world has  of Alaska  than any  boycott can  do us                                                                    
     harm.  It's time for us  to stand up for Alaska and the                                                                    
     vision that  the world  has of our  state, a  vision of                                                                    
     incomparable  wildlands  and bountiful  populations  of                                                                    
     wildlife.     Our  civil,  constitutional,   and  moral                                                                    
     stewardship requirements  need to  be adhered to.   The                                                                    
     APHA urges you,  for the sake of  our precious wildlife                                                                    
     resources and  the people of  rural Alaska,  to support                                                                    
     this bill.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE asked people on teleconference who had written                                                                       
testimony to provide it to the committee.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0772                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  pointed  out  that she  didn't  have  the                                                               
handout Mr. Joslin said he'd provided.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
Number 0750                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FATE closed  public testimony,  asking people  to stay  on                                                               
teleconference  for questions.    He announced  his intention  of                                                               
moving the bill from committee this day.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  asked Mr. Robus  to address a  topic raised                                                               
in  a  letter  in  committee   packets  from  Jenny  Pursell  [in                                                               
opposition to SB 155, dated May 8,  2003] that says under SB 155,                                                               
aerial  predator control  can be  declared by  the Board  of Game                                                               
without the backing of ADF&G.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS responded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     Our reading - and one thing  that may not be clear - is                                                                    
     that  under  the  existing statute,  let  alone  what's                                                                    
     before  you, the  public can  be involved  in predation                                                                    
     control  programs  ... involving  same-day-airborne  or                                                                    
     airborne hunting  if this  complicated process  is gone                                                                    
     through that I mentioned before.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     The  ...  Board of  Game,  under  the language  in  ...                                                                    
     SB 155, would  be able to  go ahead and put  together a                                                                    
     predation control program and  hand it to the executive                                                                    
     branch  without the  involvement  of the  commissioner.                                                                    
     But,  as I  said  before, in  two  ways the  department                                                                    
     still  would  have  some  authority  and  some  say  in                                                                    
     whether  or not  a program  went forward.   And  one is                                                                    
     that the board does not  have any fiscal authority over                                                                    
     the  department, and  the  commissioner still  controls                                                                    
     the purse strings for what  happens and, therefore, can                                                                    
     direct that something either be done or not done.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
     And  then, secondly,  the provisions  of the  airborne-                                                                    
     hunting Act means that ...  if nondepartment people are                                                                    
     involved  in  predation  control  activities  involving                                                                    
     aerial methods, the state must,  as we read it, issue a                                                                    
     permit to  protect people from federal  prosecution ...                                                                    
     under that law.  People can  be made legal if there's a                                                                    
     state permit that says that  they're participating in a                                                                    
     program to protect a wildlife  population.  And in this                                                                    
     case it would either be moose  or caribou or one of the                                                                    
     ungulate  populations identified  under the  intensive-                                                                    
     management law.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS added that he hadn't  read the letter, but thought he'd                                                               
answered Representative Masek's question.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0522                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  reiterated that  the letter says  the board                                                               
can  declare  aerial  predator control  without  the  backing  of                                                               
ADF&G.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROBUS  replied, "I  think  that's  true.   But,  again,  the                                                               
department and  the administration  would still retain  the final                                                               
say as to whether or not to implement that program."                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MASEK  referred to  oral testimony and  to written                                                               
testimony to the  Board of Game from the board's  March 6 meeting                                                               
[in  packets].   She  paraphrased  from a  letter  from Lewis  F.                                                               
Egrass  of McGrath  that  says  [original punctuation  provided]:                                                               
"Just  last night  March 5th  on Alaska  State news,  Paul Joslin                                                               
stated  that  their survey  showed  that  75% of  rural  Alaskans                                                               
opposed predator control.   I have contacted all  the villages in                                                               
this area  and none of them  have any knowledge of  this survey."                                                               
Representative Masek said she just wanted to put that on record.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0362                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE asked about the  allegation that the moose count isn't                                                               
accurate and has no scientific basis.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS responded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     It's true that  there's a lot of art in  the science of                                                                    
     wildlife management.  And it's  true that these surveys                                                                    
     are expensive.  And we  have to try to hopscotch around                                                                    
     the state, and  there are a lot of areas  that we don't                                                                    
     survey every year.   But we try to  keep hopping around                                                                    
     and checking up  on places from time to time.   And the                                                                    
     department  is  among  the  leaders  in  the  world  in                                                                    
     developing aerial  survey techniques, and we  have done                                                                    
     what we can  to try to develop ways to  do the best job                                                                    
     we  can of  estimating  - not  directly counting  every                                                                    
     last one,  but estimating  moose populations  and other                                                                    
     wildlife populations in the state.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE asked whether the figures are valid.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS replied:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     I  believe   they  are,  Mr.  Chairman,   although  ...                                                                    
     depending on where you're  looking specifically, we may                                                                    
     have less  scientific data than  in other places.   But                                                                    
     in  places  where   we've  got  significant  management                                                                    
     problems, we try  to allocate our resources  so that we                                                                    
     do fly high-quality surveys and  do the best job we can                                                                    
     under the  conditions. ...  We can  still be  foiled by                                                                    
     weather conditions or other anomalies,  but we have, we                                                                    
     believe, valid  results and estimates that  are as good                                                                    
     as you can get under the circumstances.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 0187                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  referred to one  of the graphs  in the                                                               
packet.   He said  some game  management biologists  and resource                                                               
managers  have mentioned  that the  1988 number  was an  anomaly,                                                               
that taking out the bottom and  top numbers would give more of an                                                               
average, and that shooting for an all-time high isn't feasible.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS responded:                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     You make a good point,  and the department is on record                                                                    
     repeatedly as  trying to make sure  that population and                                                                    
     harvest objectives that  are established are reasonable                                                                    
     and  ...  achievable.  ...  There's  no  doubt  and  no                                                                    
     argument  from  the department  that  we  don't have  a                                                                    
     management  problem  for  ungulates   in  Unit  13  and                                                                    
     Unit 19D and  several other places.   But in  trying to                                                                    
     correct those problems,  we need to be  careful that we                                                                    
     aim towards  objectives that can be  sustained, and ...                                                                    
     don't create more problems when we get there.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     Anybody who  knows the history of  the Nelchina caribou                                                                    
     herd knows  that populations do  fluctuate the  way ...                                                                    
     Senator Seekins mentioned.  And  we have to be careful,                                                                    
     when trends  are going up,  not to  stimulate something                                                                    
     that gets so high that it creates damage.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 03-43, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS noted that [the graph] has some error associated with                                                                 
it; it's an estimate.  He explained:                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
     If you draw the type of  error bars that we have around                                                                    
     our estimates, you  might find that that line  is a lot                                                                    
     less lumpy  than it  appears here.   And  if we  had no                                                                    
     snow on the  ground that winter, it would  be very hard                                                                    
     to find  moose during  a survey anyway,  so we'd  get a                                                                    
     low estimate.   So I think  what you need to  look at -                                                                    
     and what  wildlife biologists  get used  to doing  - is                                                                    
     instead of  worrying too much about  the absolute place                                                                    
     where  that point  is, you  look at  the general  line.                                                                    
     And  that  general trend  for  moose  in [Unit]  13  is                                                                    
     definitely down over  the long term, and  we agree that                                                                    
     we've got  some serious management concerns  there that                                                                    
     need to be addressed.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 0071                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA recalled  that the  environments in  which                                                               
moose live  must be specifically  beneficial for them;  they need                                                               
to  be able  to reach  what they  forage on,  for example,  and a                                                               
growing forest  can actually  outgrow the  range which  moose can                                                               
reach.   She asked whether there  has been any kind  of change in                                                               
the environment [in the game management units being discussed].                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBUS replied:                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     One  thing that  is  often forgotten  is  ... that  the                                                                    
     habitat  is  constantly   changing  everywhere  in  the                                                                    
     state.  And  numbers of animals in the  woods or tundra                                                                    
     or  wherever are  also constantly  changing.   And  the                                                                    
     challenge  of wildlife  management  is to  try to  keep                                                                    
     things  in  balance  and at  adequate  levels  so  that                                                                    
     people can  use the wildlife  in the various  ways they                                                                    
     do.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     And, yes, our area  biologists ... become very familiar                                                                    
     with the areas,  and we know that  there are situations                                                                    
     where  habitat is  the primary  problem for  ungulates.                                                                    
     But there's a whole variety  of factors ... that affect                                                                    
     ungulate  populations   or  any   wildlife  population,                                                                    
     predation  being  one  of  them,  habitat  quality  and                                                                    
     quantity another,  disease, parasites - you  can on and                                                                    
     on; weather is a big one for moose.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
      And  so that's  why the  current statute  and the  ...                                                                    
     bill in front  of you talks about ...  the board having                                                                    
     to making the judgment  that predation is a significant                                                                    
     cause for  a depressed ungulate population,  because it                                                                    
     doesn't  do  any good  to  remove  predation or  reduce                                                                    
     predation if  that's not  what's causing  the depressed                                                                    
     moose herd or caribou herd.   So, obviously, we need to                                                                    
     look at make sure that  predation is a problem, and ...                                                                    
     not something else controlling the situation.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
Number 0329                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  said this bill  seems to want  to take                                                               
authority from the governor and  the commissioner, and give it to                                                               
the board.  He asked whether  that is a real situation, since the                                                               
governor, in the end, controls the  purse strings of the board or                                                               
even the department.  He surmised  that if a governor didn't want                                                               
predator control, it wouldn't happen, regardless of this bill.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  ROBUS  offered  his belief  that  [Governor  Murkowski]  has                                                               
stated repeatedly  that he's  in favor  of predator  control; has                                                               
voiced a policy  that certain techniques will not  be employed at                                                               
this time;  and is very interested  in having predator-management                                                               
problems  addressed by  local people,  as  opposed to  department                                                               
staff, in  part because of  the cost to  the state involved  in a                                                               
staff  effort.    In  further   reply,  he  reiterated  that  the                                                               
administration presently  finds the bill unacceptable  because of                                                               
the commissioner's  diminished role  in Section  1, which  is the                                                               
process whereby the board produces the predation-control plan.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE recalled  that the governor, in a speech  to the joint                                                               
session,  had talked  about active  management, which  Chair Fate                                                               
said connotes  "active management including, if  needed, predator                                                               
control."                                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  MASEK  commented  that  almost  everyone  in  the                                                               
Senate had  voted for this  bill and  urged moving it  forward to                                                               
the House floor.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0562                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE MORGAN  told members he  is from the Unit  19 area                                                               
and  is  very familiar  with  Unit  19D;  he's been  involved  in                                                               
predator control since  1998 and pushed legislation  at that time                                                               
for  predator control.  He  said the  moose  population is  going                                                               
down.  Representative  Morgan told how bears  change their eating                                                               
habits as they  become more expert, going from  eating the entire                                                               
carcass  in  the  spring  to   only  eating  the  fattest  parts.                                                               
Similarly, he said, elders have  told him that wolves become very                                                               
persistent and  expert at catching  [moose], and know  what parts                                                               
to eat.   He recounted being  told by someone that  he'd run into                                                               
four moose  [carcasses] for which  the only parts eaten  were the                                                               
nose; tongue,  which has a lot  of fat; heart and  kidneys, which                                                               
have a lot of fat; and rump.  Then they move on.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 0727                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LYNN emphasized  the responsibility of legislators                                                               
to be  responsible stewards of  the natural  resources, including                                                               
animal  populations.   He  said  these  [wolves] aren't  mythical                                                               
Disneyland  animals, but  a  "four-legged  natural resource  that                                                               
needs to  be managed with  the best scientific knowledge  that we                                                               
have, in  the most practical, commonsense  way to do it,  for the                                                               
benefit  of  all  of  us."   He  said  he  believes  that  active                                                               
management is required and that he will support the bill.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
Number 0815                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  HEINZE  moved  to  report CSSB  155(RES)  out  of                                                               
committee  with individual  recommendations and  the accompanying                                                               
fiscal notes.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG  objected for discussion purposes.   He                                                               
told members  he believes in  predator control, but said  on this                                                               
issue he's been  troubled because both sides seem  to get stymied                                                               
in rhetoric  and locked  into positions.   He  said he  looks for                                                               
good,  scientific data  and  hears  conflicting information  from                                                               
both  sides.   Referring  to  the top  of  page  2, he  indicated                                                               
concern  that  it seems  to  amend  statute  with regard  to  the                                                               
philosophy  of   predator  control  for  objectives.     He  also                                                               
expressed concern  about taking authority away  from the governor                                                               
in theory in  the bill, when the governor actually  has it in the                                                               
end.   He indicated that  whether one  agrees with a  governor or                                                               
not, there are  larger public policy issues involved in  a lot of                                                               
what the legislature does.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  GUTTENBERG  also  noted that  two  ballot  issues                                                               
which  passed [relating  to same-day-airborne  hunting] were  big                                                               
public policy calls.  Indicating  the need to further educate the                                                               
public,  he said  that  all  he's hearing  is  "bears and  wolves                                                               
versus moose."   Referring to Representative  Cissna's discussion                                                               
of habitat  issues, he said  there are water issues  and [effects                                                               
from fires]  as well,  and yet  he never  seems to  hear dialogue                                                               
about what  is happening out there  on the ground.   He explained                                                               
that he  hasn't been satisfied  that an answer has  come forward,                                                               
and said he doesn't think [this bill] does it.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 1051                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE  said he didn't presume  to be an expert,  but offered                                                               
his belief  that ADF&G has  ample evidence  that in some  areas -                                                               
though  it may  not  be  the total  cause  of  diminution of  the                                                               
ungulate population  - "it has  been the balance that  has caused                                                               
the  decrease."   He said  he  knows of  times when  a deep  snow                                                               
coupled with  cold has probably  been much more  devastating than                                                               
wolves to  the game  population; however, wolves  on top  of that                                                               
can just about  devastate an entire moose population  in an area.                                                               
He  agreed in  part with  Representative Guttenberg,  but offered                                                               
his assessment  that in  some areas it  really is  predation that                                                               
has caused the diminution of the herd.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  FATE stressed  the desire  for  active management,  saying                                                               
there  has been  too much  passive management  where people  have                                                               
just said  to let nature  take its  course.  He  recalled hearing                                                               
from elders that  there have been times of starvation  as well as                                                               
times of plenty.  "We're trying  to keep away from those times of                                                               
starvation," he concluded.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
Number 1171                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  said she'd  talked to  people in  her area                                                               
and believes  they understand that  in some areas  it's important                                                               
to have  predator control, even  though they'd voted  strongly in                                                               
favor of banning  aerial wolf control.  However,  they'd told her                                                               
it should be  professional.  She also expressed  concern that she                                                               
hadn't seen the proposed amendment  [mentioned by Mr. Robus], and                                                               
said  she'd  like  to  hear  debate over  the  problem  that  the                                                               
administration has with the current version.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
Number 1268                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG withdrew his objection.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR FATE asked whether there  was any further objection.  There                                                               
being no  objection, CSSB  155(RES) was  reported from  the House                                                               
Resources Standing Committee.                                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects