Legislature(2007 - 2008)BARNES 124
02/13/2008 01:00 PM RESOURCES
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HJR 31-OPPOSE FED LAW RE AERIAL HUNTING 1:07:31 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO announced that the first order of business would be HOUSE JOINT RESOLUTION NO. 31, Opposing the enactment of the Protect America's Wildlife Act of 2007 that intends to prohibit aerial hunting of wildlife, which is essential for predator control in Alaska. 1:07:45 PM REPRESENTATIVE WES KELLER, Alaska State Legislature, speaking as the sponsor of HJR 31, stated that outside groups have for years tried to manage Alaska's assets of fish and game. The latest attack is coming from the U.S. Congress with the introduction of H.R. 3663, [the Protect America's Wildlife Act of 2007]. While the bill language does not specify that it is directed at Alaska, a press release on the bill is aimed specifically at Alaska. He said HJR 31 says no to federal legislation and says Alaska's biologists and [Board of Game] members know better than the Washington politicians. The resolution asks members of the U.S. Congress to join Alaska's Congressional Delegation in saying no. JIM POUND, Staff, to Representative Wes Keller, Alaska State Legislature, in response to Co-Chair Gatto, confirmed that copies of H.R. 3663 are in the committee's packets. 1:09:37 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO inquired who the sponsor of H.R. 3663 is. MR. POUND responded Congressman George Miller of California. CO-CHAIR GATTO noted the bill's nickname, the PAW Act. He said Congressman Miller is a member of the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources and has some clout. MR. POUND replied correct. CO-CHAIR GATTO opened public testimony on HJR 31. 1:10:27 PM ROD ARNO, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council, testified that his organization of over 10,000 Alaskans supports HJR 31 because it is extremely important that the U.S. Congress know the Alaska State Legislature is behind Alaska's Congressional Delegation in opposing H.R. 3663. He said the Alaska Outdoor Council requests that one amendment be made to HJR 31 on page 2, line 6, which reads: "Whereas moose and caribou represent livestock to many Alaskans". Alaskans do not consider their wild food harvest to be livestock, he stated. The definition of livestock is horse, cattle, sheep, and other useful animals kept or raised on a farm or ranch. In response to Co-Chair Gatto, Mr. Arno agreed that using the term "food stock" would be fine. In further response to Co-Chair Gatto, Mr. Arno confirmed that he is familiar with H.R. 3663. 1:11:40 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO asked what is included in the federal legislation that should prompt the Alaska State Legislature to oppose it. MR. ARNO answered that Congressman Miller is joining in consort with the Defenders of Wildlife, the national organization behind the 2008 Airborne Wolf Ballot Initiative which would ban same day airborne or aerial control of predators. He said H.R. 3663 would make changes to the federal Airborne Hunting Act [of 1972] to stop Alaska's ability to do predator-prey management. CO-CHAIR GATTO said he sees it that way also. 1:13:29 PM ROBERT FITHIAN, Executive Director, Alaska Professional Hunters Association (APHA), stated that the APHA supports HJR 31 because it is vital to the integrity and fiber of Alaska's rural lifestyles, the guided hunting industry, and hunters in general. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON inquired whether many people in APHA think moose and caribou are livestock. MR. FITHIAN responded no, APHA concurs with Mr. Arno's proposed amendment. CO-CHAIR GATTO asked whether the term food stock would be satisfactory. MR. FITHIAN said he is unsure that food stock is the right term and is thinking perhaps wildlife resources. He deferred to what Mr. Kevin Saxby would recommend. REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG inquired how many clients the Alaska Professional Hunters Association has in a year. MR. FITHIAN stated that APHA has 150-160 individual professional members that provide guide service in Alaska. He said he does not know the exact total number of clients, but the average number per APHA member would be about 15-20. His organization represents an industry of over $200 million per year, he noted. 1:16:49 PM JERRY MCCUTCHEON spoke on behalf of himself in support of the basic premise of HJR 31. He has watched wolves and other game for more years than most of the committee members have been alive, he remarked. He said he remembers when Don Sheldon used to complain about the federal government poisoning wolves and how it caused the deaths of other kinds of animals as well. He also remembered an aerial hunting accident that wrecked the plane, killed two people, and injured two people back in the days when Lowell Thomas, Don Sheldon, and Jay Hammond used to hunt. Why does the federal government now want to protect the wolves it used to poison, he asked. The wolves ate themselves out of house and home in [Denali National Park and Preserve] and then migrated out to state land. He said he does not see why the state needs to feed the wolves like the "greenies" think should be done. 1:18:57 PM SCOTT OGAN, President, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife (SFW), pointed out that he is testifying on his own time and his comments do not represent his employer, the Department of Natural Resources, State of Alaska. He said his organization strongly supports HJR 31 and the only regrettable thing is that the [U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service] is underutilized in doing predator control in Alaska. CO-CHAIR GATTO closed public testimony after ascertaining that no one else wished to testify. 1:20:01 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO moved that the committee adopt Amendment 1 as follows: Page 2, line 6: Delete "livestock" Insert "food stock" REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH objected to Amendment 1. 1:20:35 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH moved that the committee adopt an amendment to Amendment 1 as follows: delete "livestock" and insert "a subsistence and urban food supply source". She said the problem with using food stock is that it is a food and a value to Alaskans in different ways. It is not just a hunting for the kill; it is to supply families with nourishing food. Thus, Amendment 1, as amended, would be as follows: Page 2, line 6: Delete "livestock" Insert "a subsistence and urban food supply source" 1:21:49 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON objected for discussion purposes. 1:22:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI said he does not think subsistence and urban covers everybody, for instance people living in Delta. CO-CHAIR GATTO commented that someone could be a rural user but not a subsistence user. He said 100 percent coverage could be provided by saying, "both subsistence and nonsubsistence". Picking out the two groups of subsistence and hunting leaves some people out. Representative Fairclough's amendment to Amendment 1 tends not to cover everybody. 1:24:36 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH, in response to comments from the committee members, withdrew her amendment to Amendment 1 and moved that the committee adopt a new amendment to Amendment 1 as follows: delete "food stock", insert "a food supply source for all Alaskans". Thus, Amendment 1, as amended, would be as follows: Page 2, line 6: Delete "livestock" Insert "a food supply source for all Alaskans" 1:24:47 PM CO-CHAIR JOHNSON requested the committee entertain adding the word "asset", such as, "a valuable asset and food source [for all Alaskans]". He said this is a clearer definition of what the committee believes and is consistent with SSHB 348, a bill that is coming before the committee next. 1:25:21 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said the committee needs to look at the federal legislation [H.R. 3663] because it deals with all wildlife, not just predator control. He noted that HJR 31 specifies moose and caribou, thus the resolution excludes other important food sources such as sheep, goat, and rabbits. The federal legislation would result in being unable to fly somewhere and hunt rabbits that same day, unless the hunter flew on a regularly scheduled commercial aircraft. He expressed his concern that the request for rejection of H.R. 3663 is being too narrowly defined by basing it solely on the idea of predator control for two species. This does not cover the full parameters on which the request for rejection is based, he said. For instance, there could be a subsistence emergency in a rural area that would necessitate the Board of Game passing special regulations allowing flights to another area to take extra game animals. He urged the committee to keep the objection broad enough to cover a multitude of circumstances. 1:28:38 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, in response to Co-Chair Gatto regarding the amendment to Amendment 1, stated he does not object to the broad idea of saying, "a food source for Alaskans", but he would prefer it to say, "moose, caribou, and other wildlife represent an important food source for Alaskans". 1:29:55 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO suggested, "regular and dependable food source for Alaskans". REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH withdrew her amendment to Amendment 1. CO-CHAIR GATTO withdrew Amendment 1. 1:30:15 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROSES moved that the committee adopt Amendment 2 as follows: Page 2, line 6: Delete "moose and caribou represent livestock" Insert "much of Alaska's wildlife represents a natural food source" 1:31:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE WILSON objected to Amendment 2. She offered an amendment to Amendment 2 as follows: Page 2, line 6, delete "to", insert "for". Thus, Amendment 2, as amended, would be as follows: Page 2, line 6: Delete "moose and caribou represent livestock to" Insert "much of Alaska's wildlife represents a natural food source for" There being no objection, the amendment to Amendment 2 was adopted. REPRESENTATIVE WILSON withdrew her objection to Amendment 2. There being no objection, Amendment 2, as amended, was adopted. 1:33:47 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she would like the committee to consider some additional language and have the maker of the resolution comment on it. 1:34:15 PM REPRESENTATIVE KELLER, in response to Co-Chair Gatto, said he has no problem with the language of Amendment 2, as amended. He explained that the word livestock was chosen because H.R. 3663 provides an exemption that allows the killing of predators by aerial or any other means in order to protect livestock. 1:34:45 PM REPRESENTATIVE WILSON moved that the committee adopt Amendment 3 as follows: Page 2, line 11, after "sent": Insert "electronically" There being no objection, Amendment 3 was adopted. 1:36:14 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH asked for the sponsor's opinion regarding insertion of the following language: Page 2, after line 6: WHEREAS airborne hunting is illegal in Alaska; and WHEREAS [the] Alaska predator control program is mandated by the Alaska State Legislature, and regulated by the independent Alaska Board [of] Game; and WHEREAS Alaska's wildlife management programs are conducted entirely within the tenets of the Airborne Hunting Act; and WHEREAS predator management in specific areas of the state increases opportunities for Alaskans to put healthy food on their families' dinner table[s]; REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH noted that much of the aforementioned language is taken from the governor's [2/27/07] letter to Congressman George Miller of California. REPRESENTATIVE KELLER said he thinks the language would have to be, "airborne hunting 'of game' is illegal ...." 1:37:48 PM DOUG LARSON, Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish & Game, noted that airborne hunting is something that comes up repeatedly. Predator control activity is not hunting, he pointed out. The two are different. Thus, it is appropriate that airborne hunting is not hunting in regard to Alaska's predator control programs. CO-CHAIR GATTO asked whether Mr. Larson has any suggestions for changes or deletions in the resolution's language. MR. LARSON replied he did not get all the details of what was put forward, but he did not hear anything out of place relative to the information put out by ADF&G and what the governor sent in her letter to Congressman Miller. REPRESENTATIVE ROSES said aerial hunting is illegal in Alaska and his understanding is that Representative Fairclough was just stating that. 1:39:12 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON understood the Board of Game has not allowed same day airborne hunting of bear, but that it could, and that is why bear was put [into HB 256]. "Was that then illegal, or was it just not happening at the current time but the Board of Game has the ability to allow that," he asked. MR. LARSON answered yes. Currently, if a proposal is brought forward to include bears for landing and shooting, the Board of Game could do that as a viable method under the hunting regulations. He said [HB 256] would add brown bears as a species for which the board could not allow [land and shoot] under hunting regulations. 1:40:51 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON said he is removing his objection in case he had made one. 1:41:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved that the committee adopt Amendment 4 as follows: Page 2, line 3, after "livestock": Insert "or biological emergencies" REPRESENTATIVE SEATON explained he is adding this language because H.R. 3663, Section 3, is a provision for biological emergencies. In response to Co-Chair Gatto, Representative Seaton agreed to make Amendment 4 conceptual in case this issue appears elsewhere in HJR 31. REPRESENTATIVE KAWASAKI said he does not have a problem with Amendment 4, but thinks lines 2-3 are false given his interpretation of the backup material provided for H.R. 3663, Section 3. 1:43:00 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON cited Section 4 of H.R. 3663 which states that predators can be shot from the air under certain conditions, one of those being a biological emergency. He said he thought he and Representative Kawasaki were talking about the same thing in not wanting the resolution to be limited to the protection of livestock because there is nothing in Section 4 that says it is for the protection of livestock, it says for biological emergency. CO-CHAIR GATTO commented that the problem with the language in H.R. 3663, "to prevent a biological emergency", is that it means once you have it there is nothing that can be done about it. CO-CHAIR JOHNSON pointed out the use of the term "irreversible" in the definition of biological emergency in Section 4 of H.R. 3663. He asked whether the state of Alaska's definition of biological emergency is the same as that in H.R. 3663. MR. LARSON replied that this clause concerns ADF&G because once there is an irreversible decline, it is too late. That is why [HB 256] talks about active management, he said. When it is seen that something is happening in a population, taking some sort of action under those circumstances makes sense. What would be the point of doing anything once it reaches the point of being irreversible, he asked. 1:45:10 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO noted that H.R. 3663 limits the state to proving that the irreversible decline is caused by predators. He said it does not matter what causes the decline because the state needs the ability to act on it before it is irreversible. He asked whether the language in HJR 31 should be clarified to reflect the term irreversible decline when defining biological emergency. MR. LARSON explained that the existing intensive management law speaks to population objectives and harvest objectives. The law's premise is that information will be obtained relative to populations, and that when those objectives are not being met the department will provide information as to the cause. To the extent that predators play into that, the department would take on predator management. He said H.R. 3663 is a whole different paradigm with biological emergency because it is totally different from the intensive management law and how the department is currently expected to operate. 1:47:02 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON pointed out that he is not arguing to change Alaska's laws to correspond with federal laws. Rather, he is arguing that on page 2 of HJR 31 it is important to address aerial predator control as it relates to both livestock and biological emergencies. CO-CHAIR GATTO commented that members do not want something to be said that is untrue and have the U.S. Congress say the Alaska State Legislature does not know what it is talking about. 1:48:42 PM REPRESENTATIVE ROSES said this is a resolution, not a bill. While it is important to be accurate, the reality is that most people will not read past the first two lines on the first page. There is even the question of how effective resolutions are anyway, but that does not diminish the fact that it needs to be done. The committee is getting nitpicky, he said, and this does not change the end result that a resolution is passed that opposes H.R. 3663. 1:49:38 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she would offer her additional language in another committee so the resolution will not be held up and can go forward. 1:49:59 PM CO-CHAIR GATTO said he does not think the congressmen themselves will read the resolution but their aides will, and any misstatements in the resolution will take away from what Alaska wants to do now and in the future. 1:50:48 PM REPRESENTATIVE SEATON withdrew Amendment 4. He moved that the committee adopt Amendment 5 as follows: Page 2, line 3: Delete "except for the protection of livestock" There being no objection, Amendment 5 was adopted. 1:53:16 PM REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH declined to offer her four suggested "whereas's" as an amendment. She agreed the resolution needs to be accurate and said she will leave it to the sponsor to choose whether to incorporate her suggested language. CO-CHAIR GATTO said the resolution will not be heard again until next Wednesday [2/20/08]. REPRESENTATIVE FAIRCLOUGH said she is not offering a formal amendment because she does not want to slow down the process on this urgent matter since the session is only 90 days. 1:56:22 PM REPRESENTATIVE KELLER, in response to Co-Chair Gatto, stated that the next stop for the resolution is the House floor. CO-CHAIR GATTO advised that the committee must then get it right. Following discussion about whether to hold HJR 31 or report it from committee as amended, Co-Chair Gatto said he would hold the resolution. 1:57:29 PM REPRESENTATIVE KELLER spoke to Representative Fairclough's suggested additional ["whereas"] language. The intent of the resolution is not to be specific and to analyze the federal act, he said, the intent is to simply say that Alaska is managing its own. Therefore, he is happy to not include extra language as the resolution is accurate as amended. CO-CHAIR GATTO held HJR 31.