Legislature(2017 - 2018)BARNES 124

03/16/2018 01:00 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
+ HB 315 CONFIDENTIALITY OF ANIMAL & CROP RECORDS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
*+ HCR 23 PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM FOREIGN PATHOGENS TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+= HB 260 FISH & GAME LICENSES;ELECTRONIC FORM TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HCR 23-PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM FOREIGN PATHOGENS                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:05:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  announced that  the first  order of business  would                                                              
be  HOUSE  CONCURRENT  RESOLUTION   NO.  23,  Supporting  enhanced                                                              
efforts  to protect  wildlife and  domestic animals  in the  state                                                              
from  infectious  diseases,  foreign   pathogens,  and  nonendemic                                                              
parasites.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:05:10 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON,  speaking as  the sponsor, introduced  HCR 23.                                                              
He  said  the  resolution  lays   out  facts  and  recommends  the                                                              
legislature  and state agencies  take seriously  the concern  held                                                              
by  many   Alaskans  of  the   potentiality  of  an   outbreak  of                                                              
Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae  (M. ovi)  in Alaska's wild  sheep, goat,                                                              
and  muskoxen   populations,  with   sheep  currently   being  the                                                              
greatest concern.   A  [3/13/18 Alaska Department  of Fish  & Game                                                              
(ADF&G)] press  release announced that  both sheep and  goats have                                                              
shown the  presence of M.  ovi.  He  said he understands  that the                                                              
meat of  [infected]  animals would  not pose  harm to humans  from                                                              
consumption but  depending upon the  severity of the  strain there                                                              
could be a die-off of populations.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  related that  this [respiratory  pathogen] has                                                              
been  an ongoing  problem  in  the Lower  48  Mountain  West.   It                                                              
became topical  in Alaska politics  through two proposals  brought                                                              
before the  Board of  Game (BOG) about  how to segregate  domestic                                                              
sheep  from wild sheep,  he said,  most recently  in fall  [2017].                                                              
The  proposals  drew  much  attention from  big  game  guides  and                                                              
hunters  as well  as domestic  sheep owners.   The  Board of  Game                                                              
conducted fact finding,  but the ultimate conclusion  was that the                                                              
board lacks  jurisdiction over domestic  animals.   Domestic sheep                                                              
brought  to  Alaska  can  have these  pathogens  and  the  tension                                                              
arises  in what  to do  about  that fact,  he  explained.   Should                                                              
animals  be tested,  and,  if so,  what should  be  done with  the                                                              
results of those tests, what is the remedy, if any?                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  said he suspects the most  contentious part of                                                              
HCR 23  is page 2,  lines 6-8, which  state:  "WHEREAS  screening,                                                              
reporting,  and mitigation are  proven and  widely used  tools for                                                              
preventing  the import and  transmission  of disease pathogens  to                                                              
wild populations  as well as domestic  animals".  The rest  of the                                                              
resolution is  relatively pro forma,  he continued.   Principally,                                                              
HCR 23  provides the opportunity  to dialogue and gives  the House                                                              
of  Representatives  in particular  a  chance to  express  concern                                                              
with the  wild sheep  population,  which has  been the subject  of                                                              
concern even without  M. ovi, such concerns being  climate change,                                                              
browse, and declining populations in Southcentral Alaska.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:09:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  noted M. ovi  could cause pneumonia  resulting                                                              
in major die-offs.   At 45,000 Dall sheep, he said,  Alaska has 25                                                              
percent  of America's  populations.   In the  Lower 48 wild  sheep                                                              
have died  off, resulting in critical  loss of population.   There                                                              
are  threats as  well to  goats  and muskoxen,  he continued,  and                                                              
this week goats were detected as having M. ovi.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  related he has pondered how  domestic sheep at                                                              
elevations  of  500-1,000 feet  would  have  contact with  a  Dall                                                              
sheep  that seemingly  would be  many  miles away.   While  Alaska                                                              
doesn't have free-range  sheep herding, a disease  could be spread                                                              
through  contact  with  fecal  or   other  matter,  he  explained.                                                              
[Alaska]  has about  1,500 domestic  sheep and  it is  potentially                                                              
noteworthy that the  infected sheep were found  in Game Management                                                              
Unit (GMU)  13 where it  is believed contact  or proximity  may be                                                              
the closest.   He  pointed out  there is  no vaccine or  treatment                                                              
for M. ovi.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  JOSEPHSON   further  noted  he  has  forwarded   to  the                                                              
committee  the e-mails  he  has received  because  he believes  e-                                                              
mails should  be posted on BASIS  given that BASIS is  the archive                                                              
and should reflect everything for future dialogue.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:12:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  inquired whether the farmers  keeping these                                                              
1,500 domestic sheep have made official comment.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  replied hundreds of people have  made enormous                                                              
comment through  groups like  the Alaska Farm  Bureau, Inc.   They                                                              
have  lots of  concern, he  continued,  and he  and Co-Chair  Tarr                                                              
have paired  the committee's consideration  of HCR 23 with  HB 315                                                              
because they are  opposite sides of the same coin.   The question,                                                              
he  explained,  is how  to  reach a  resolution  that  is fair  to                                                              
everybody  and isn't  overreaching  or excessive  in whatever  the                                                              
mitigation might be.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked how  large  the population  of  wild                                                              
sheep is in which this pathogen has been found.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  deferred to ADF&G for an  answer, but surmised                                                              
it would be some fraction of 45,000.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR noted  several  organizations,  as  well as  ADF&G,                                                              
would be testifying after the sponsor.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON said  she  presumes ADF&G  would have  all                                                              
the facts.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:15:21 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
KEVIN KEHOE,  President,  Alaska Wild Sheep  Foundation (AK  WSF),                                                              
testified in  support of  HCR 23.   He said he  is a retired  U.S.                                                              
Army officer  and recently  retired small  business owner,  and is                                                              
managing  the   non-profit  foundation   as  a  nearly   full-time                                                              
volunteer.  About  90 percent of the foundation's  600 members are                                                              
Alaska residents,  he continued.   The foundation's mission  is to                                                              
protect Dall  sheep and other wild  Caprinae in Alaska,  which are                                                              
the Rocky  Mountain goat and  muskoxen.  The foundation's  current                                                              
focus, he  explained, is  to prevent  transmission of  the foreign                                                              
pathogen  Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae  (M. ovi)  from domestic  sheep                                                              
and goats  to wild populations.   The foundation  was tremendously                                                              
distressed  by the  recent  news that  some  transmission of  some                                                              
form of this pathogen has occurred.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEHOE  said  his organization  supports  HCR  23  because  it                                                              
directly  affects achieving  the  foundation's  mission.   Twenty-                                                              
five percent  of North  America's  wild sheep  live in Alaska  and                                                              
are commonly  owned by all Alaskans,  he pointed out.   Alaska has                                                              
45,000  sheep,  approximately  27,000 Rocky  Mountain  goats,  and                                                              
about  9,000 muskoxen.    A highly  desirable  game species,  wild                                                              
sheep  bring  a tremendous  amount  of  resources into  the  state                                                              
annually from  both resident and  nonresident hunters.   Alaska is                                                              
the only state in  the U.S. in which a sheep  tag can be purchased                                                              
across the counter.   He further noted that Dall  sheep are valued                                                              
by tourists as well as by hunters.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:19:03 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REBECCA SCHWANKE,  Staff biologist,  Alaska Wild Sheep  Foundation                                                              
(AK WSF),  testified in support  of HCR 23.   She noted that  as a                                                              
biologist for  ADF&G she  used to  manage GMU 13.   She  is before                                                              
the committee,  she continued, as  the staff biologist for  the AK                                                              
WSF  and as  an Alaska  resident hunter  interested in  protecting                                                              
wild sheep and  other public wildlife resources.   She offered her                                                              
respect  for  her   former  colleagues  in  ADF&G   and  said  she                                                              
understands what  it is like to  have other people  interested "in                                                              
what's  going  on  in  your  sandbox."    This  resolution  brings                                                              
attention   to   protecting   Alaska's   wildlife   from   foreign                                                              
pathogens,  viruses, parasites,  and infectious  disease, and  the                                                              
need for this effort has never been greater.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE stated  she  served on  the  Western Association  of                                                              
Fish and  Wildlife Agencies' Wild  Sheep Working Group  from 2007-                                                              
2014,  and therefore  has a  unique perspective  and history  with                                                              
the  Dall  sheep and  bighorn  sheep  community.   As  the  Alaska                                                              
representative  she   worked  closely  with   bighorn  biologists,                                                              
veterinarians,  and  agency  representatives   to  understand  the                                                              
threats  and  issues affecting  wildlife  across  the  West.   The                                                              
number one  threat and  concern, she  said, was foreign  pathogens                                                              
and respiratory disease in wild sheep and their relatives.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE related  that in  2008  as an  ADF&G biologist,  she                                                              
helped establish  the first Dall sheep capture  and collar project                                                              
in her management  area.  A main  research goal, she said,  was to                                                              
establish   baseline  health  and   disease  information   because                                                              
biologists  knew it  wasn't a  matter  of if  Alaska's Dall  sheep                                                              
populations   would   ever  experience   large-scale   respiratory                                                              
disease, it was a matter of when.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  addressed why  this was the  belief.   She explained                                                              
that wild sheep  populations across the West are  being tested and                                                              
monitored   now  more   than  ever   before   because  they   have                                                              
experienced  continued effects  of  pneumonia.   Large-scale  die-                                                              
offs and  residual disease  is the number  one ongoing  threat for                                                              
wild sheep  populations in  North America.   Alaska is  facing the                                                              
same  possible outcomes,  she said,  and thinking  it could  never                                                              
happen here  is naive.   The key  at this time  is M. ovi,  an Old                                                              
World  pathogen that  has been  identified in  domestic sheep  and                                                              
goats  on every  continent  except  Antarctica.   Domestics  often                                                              
live with  M. ovi showing  no signs or  limited signs  of illness,                                                              
but  wild  sheep   often  experience  catastrophic   effects  when                                                              
exposed.   M. ovi has  been identified  in Alaska's  domestics and                                                              
now the  state's wild sheep  and goat populations,  she continued.                                                              
This makes  it even more critical  than ever that all  disease and                                                              
pathogen  testing continue  and expand  in the  state, and  HCR 23                                                              
offers the  opportunity to keep  it front and foremost  before the                                                              
Alaskan public.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:23:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE thanked  the sponsor for introducing HCR  23 and said it                                                              
symbolizes  the emphasis on  a proactive  approach that  is needed                                                              
now more than ever.   Four Dall sheep and two  mountain goats have                                                              
tested  positive, which  shows the  need to  get on  top of  this.                                                              
Throughout  his career  he  has advised  people  to manage  things                                                              
decisively and for  no regrets, he continued, and HCR  23 would be                                                              
the first  policy statement  of this  type in  North America.   If                                                              
there  is one thing  that is  agreed upon,  it is  that there  are                                                              
more questions  than answers.  The  resolution shows the  need for                                                              
being proactive  and getting the  questions answered fast.   Every                                                              
day the spread and  impact goes a little farther  and currently it                                                              
is  unknown  whether  this strain  of  M.  ovi  is benign  or  the                                                              
beginning of a crisis.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
1:25:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON surmised  [M. ovi] isn't  a new  issue and                                                              
asked when it was first identified.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEHOE replied  [AK WSF]  brought  it to  attention in  Alaska                                                              
about two  and a  half years  ago, but  it was  not based  in fact                                                              
until  [3/13/18].     He  said   testing  by  ADF&G   hasn't  been                                                              
extensive, but has  included blood tests and nasal  swabs for this                                                              
particular pathogen.   There has  been no indication  of infection                                                              
until very recently when the test results came back.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:27:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  offered  her understanding  the  positive                                                              
tests came from  GMU 13 and on the Kenai Peninsula.   She inquired                                                              
about the  number of sheep  in those two  areas and  whether these                                                              
are the areas where sheep hunting generally occurs.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE  responded the Boulder  Creek area  is next to  the road                                                              
system,  making   it  accessible  and  popular  for   viewing  and                                                              
hunting.  It  sits on the border  to an adjacent range,  he noted,                                                              
and the  challenge is that  many of the  southern sheep  ranges in                                                              
Alaska are contiguous  - the Chugach Range to  the Talkeetna Range                                                              
to potentially  the Wrangell's.   The  chance of spreading,  quite                                                              
often by traveling young males, is what concerns the AK WSF.                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE noted  the  four positive  Dall  sheep samples  were                                                              
reported  in Boulder  Creek, a  central portion  of the  Talkeetna                                                              
Mountain  Range that  is  split by  GMU 13A  and  14A, with  about                                                              
1,000-2,000  sheep in 13A  and about  1,000-2,000 more  sheep west                                                              
of the border  into 14A.  As  an area management biologist  in the                                                              
past,  she continued,  she has  had  concerns about  some sort  of                                                              
pathogen load  in this area  from domestics  from years ago.   The                                                              
Glenn Highway  runs right  through the middle  of a  really narrow                                                              
spot  between the  Chugach  Range and  the  Talkeetna's and  there                                                              
were many  homesteaders in  the area when  the highway  was built.                                                              
These  homesteaders had  sheep and  goats, plus  there was  market                                                              
hunting during  that time  to feed the  people building  the road,                                                              
and goats may have  been used as pack animals.   [Biologists] have                                                              
felt there  may have been some  pathogen transfer in this  spot in                                                              
years past,  Ms. Schwanke related.   No large-scale  die-offs have                                                              
been seen in the Talkeetna Mountains to date.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  said [ADF&G's] Glennallen  area management  staff is                                                              
responsible  for   a  very  large   section  of  sheep   range  in                                                              
Southcentral  Alaska.  This  huge area  encompasses the  Talkeetna                                                              
Mountains,  a large section  of the  Chugach Mountains,  the South                                                              
Alaska Range,  and almost all the  Wrangell Mountains.   Thus, she                                                              
explained, surveys  get rotated and an area is  surveyed every two                                                              
to  three  years.     She  offered  her  understanding   that  the                                                              
Talkeetna  Mountains  haven't been  surveyed  since  2015.   While                                                              
harvest numbers  have kept up, she  continued, it is  important to                                                              
go look at those populations to try to get a handle on it.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  said the positive  goat samples were from  a capture                                                              
operation in  GMU 15C within  the Kenai National  Wildlife Refuge.                                                              
She  offered  her  understanding   that  those  goats  were  radio                                                              
collared  and are  being  tracked, and  no  unexpected die-off  or                                                              
mortality  has been seen  to date  in that  population.   She said                                                              
her guess is that a couple thousand goats are in that area.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
1:32:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON asked  whether sheep  migrate by  distance                                                              
or by elevation.   She further asked  how the herds would  be seen                                                              
as intermingling.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE answered  sheep are not a migratory  big game species                                                              
in Alaska,  but that unfortunately  young males go on  long forays                                                              
on a  regular basis.   She  related she  has lived  in the  Copper                                                              
River  Basin for  17  years  and has  a  long list  of  documented                                                              
forays of  mountain goats and  Dall sheep.   The latest  was about                                                              
two years  ago when a  Dall sheep showed  up on the  Gulkana River                                                              
in the middle  of the Copper River  Basin on a tiny  clay bluff in                                                              
the  middle  of the  boreal  forest,  roughly  45 miles  from  the                                                              
nearest known sheep range.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
1:33:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER declared  he has  a conflict of  interest                                                              
because he is  a sheep hunter and  also raises goats.   He said he                                                              
has packed  his goats  into the  hills to hunt  sheep, but  had to                                                              
stop when  about six years  ago it was  determined that  sheep and                                                              
goats were  a problem and goat  packing was disallowed  from sheep                                                              
hunting.   He has therefore  been involved  in this argument  as a                                                              
member of the public, he stated, but not as a legislator.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:36:12 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  inquired whether  M.  ovi is  transmitted                                                              
only by direct contact, such as mouth-to-mouth contact.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  replied it  is an  airborne pathogen,  as far  as is                                                              
known.   It is a  matter of close  proximity because  the pathogen                                                              
cannot live long  outside of a host species, she  explained.  When                                                              
an animal  is carrying the  pathogen, when  it is detected  in the                                                              
nasal  cavity,  the  thought  is   that  it  isn't  transmitted  a                                                              
significant distance.   However, an infected animal  that actually                                                              
becomes  sick will  start  coughing or  have  nasal discharge  and                                                              
there would then be a longer distance for aerial transmission.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN asked  whether there  is much  opportunity                                                              
for transmission between sheep and goats.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE  responded  that   during  aerial  surveys  she  has                                                              
observed Dall  sheep and mountain goats  in the same groups.   So,                                                              
she  continued,  those  two  groups  can  come  into  nose-to-nose                                                              
contact in areas where they overlap in range.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
1:37:44 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN observed  that in  its press release  this                                                              
week the Alaska  Wild Sheep Foundation offered $600,000  to fund a                                                              
project  of testing  and  replacing infected  [domestic]  animals.                                                              
He requested further elaboration about the project.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEHOE  answered  that  this is  a  unique  solution  tailored                                                              
toward  Alaska because  unlike  in the  Lower  48, Alaska  doesn't                                                              
typically  have  herds  grazing   up  in  the  mountains.    After                                                              
checking  with its  technical experts  to ensure  its science  was                                                              
correct for  coming up with  a solution,  AK WSF decided  that the                                                              
best  way  to  allow  for  both  a  sheep  hunting,  guiding,  and                                                              
outfitting  industry and a  domestic sheep  [industry] was  to try                                                              
an approach  called M. ovi  free.  This  approach was  chosen over                                                              
trying  to do  something with  separation  because even  if a  15-                                                              
mile-long  foray range  were used  instead of  45 miles, it  would                                                              
virtually  eliminate the  entire  industry of  domestic sheep  and                                                              
goats.  So,  he explained, if  people would come forward  and have                                                              
their  animals tested,  AK  WSF has  offered  to pay  for the  vet                                                              
visit,  the testing  which  is about  $50 each  in  a sequence  of                                                              
three  nasal swabs  about two  to three  weeks apart,  and also  a                                                              
serology  test,  all  of  which  would done  by  a  laboratory  at                                                              
Washington State  University and would be as  seamless as possible                                                              
[to the livestock  owner].  Mr. Kehoe said the  veterinarian would                                                              
be able to tell  the livestock owner the results  and AK WSF would                                                              
also  have  access to  the  test  results  it  paid for  of  those                                                              
animals found to  be positive.  Currently the  only known solution                                                              
for an animal testing  positive for the presence of  M. ovi is the                                                              
following mitigation:   destroy the animal; quarantine  the animal                                                              
for the  rest of  its days  as long  as an  agency can inspect  to                                                              
ensure it  is staying onside; or  transport the animal  to another                                                              
location, preferably  a non-sheep  jurisdiction, for which  AK WSF                                                              
would pay  the cost.   He pointed out  that this money  comes from                                                              
volunteer  hours  and  donors,   so  there  must  be  testing  and                                                              
mitigation stipulations, not just free testing.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
1:42:54 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  said HCR 23 is good and  positive but also                                                              
kind  of vague.   He  inquired  whether Mr.  Kehoe  thinks the  AK                                                              
WSF's proposal would be adopted if the resolution were passed.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE replied  it is designed to be separate,  so would not be                                                              
automatic if the  resolution passes.  He said it  isn't vague, but                                                              
rather it  is in a  general sense, because  there is a  whole host                                                              
of pathogens,  such as winter tick.   With changing  climate there                                                              
are potential  pathogens that could affect  Alaska.  So  AK WSF is                                                              
taking an  approach that could  potentially energize all  of those                                                              
different efforts.   At the  same time  it would lay  a foundation                                                              
for building  off of and in a  year or so there could  be specific                                                              
legislation  that might  be required  to  actually implement  this                                                              
specific solution.                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
1:44:38 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  remarked  that this  issue  is  profoundly                                                              
disturbing.   When  a pathogen  is  first introduced  into a  wild                                                              
population it  is impossible to  know how devastating it  will be,                                                              
he  said.   A  few  mutations  and  the pathogen  becomes  a  high                                                              
mortality disease  that could  cause extirpation.   If  it becomes                                                              
pandemic  in the  sheep and  goat  populations in  one region,  it                                                              
could extend  into the  populations statewide  and could  get into                                                              
the  muskoxen  populations.    He related  that  according  to  an                                                              
article in  the Journal  of Animal Ecology  it is associated  with                                                            
long-term declines  in wild sheep populations.   So, he continued,                                                              
it could  be possible that  this is the  beginning of the  end for                                                              
Alaska's  wild  sheep.    He  commended   the  Alaska  Wild  Sheep                                                              
Foundation for  committing a tremendous  sum of money.   According                                                              
to  the article,  he related  further, once  this disease  becomes                                                              
established  in a population  it is  extremely hard to  eliminate.                                                              
Just because  animals aren't  dying this  year doesn't  mean there                                                              
won't  be a  mass  die-off  next year.    If transmission  of  the                                                              
disease  is  mouth-to-mouth,  then  common browse  is  all  that's                                                              
necessary.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR offered  her  belief  that some  of  Representative                                                              
Parish's statements  are inaccurate.  She inquired  whether he has                                                              
a specific question he would like to ask.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
1:48:15 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked  what  it  would take  to  make  Ms.                                                              
Schwanke  confident  about  the  long-term  health  of  the  sheep                                                              
populations.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE replied,  "A time machine is the  only solution right                                                              
now  that  would   make  me  feel  comfortable   with  what  we're                                                              
learning."   She said  Representative Parish's  foresight  is well                                                              
focused  and M.  ovi is  particularly frightening  because it  has                                                              
evolved  significantly over  time    at  least 60  strains of  the                                                              
pathogen are known  with some strains more virulent  and deadly to                                                              
populations  than  others.    There   are  different  interactions                                                              
between different strains of M. ovi and different wild sheep.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  noted that  currently almost all  of the  science is                                                              
with bighorn,  and in the vast majority  of times when  M. ovi has                                                              
been documented  to having  entered a  wild sheep population,  the                                                              
population has  experienced some  form of significant  respiratory                                                              
disease  and die-off.   Washington  State  University is  watching                                                              
this  pathogen in  bighorn  sheep,  she reported,  and  of the  42                                                              
bighorn  populations  being watched  that  are pneumonic,  42  are                                                              
positive for M.  ovi.  Pneumonic means regular  cases of pneumonia                                                              
come  up  year  after  year  -  sometimes  it's  adult  mortality,                                                              
sometimes lamb  mortality, and  sometimes it's delayed  mortality.                                                              
Of the  35 healthy non-pneumonic  populations that  the university                                                              
is watching only four have tested positive for M. ovi.                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE said  M.  ovi is  different  from other  respiratory                                                              
bacteria  affecting the  Caprinae  family because  it affects  and                                                              
compromises  the immune  system, making  [wild sheep]  susceptible                                                              
to many other  respiratory pathogens.  Once infected  with M. ovi,                                                              
she continued,  populations generally  have negative impacts.   If                                                              
they don't,  it doesn't mean they  aren't going to in  the future.                                                              
The pathogen could  evolve or another strain of M.  ovi could come                                                              
in and  current research says those  animals will entirely  have a                                                              
negative  response  to it.    Once a  pathogen  is  in a  wildlife                                                              
population it is  virtually impossible, if not  impossible, to get                                                              
rid of it in the population.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  related that Western  states have been  dealing with                                                              
this  for over  a decade  and many  difficult political  decisions                                                              
have been  made in those states.   The most successful  management                                                              
action  is to  test and  cull,  she explained,  and  if an  animal                                                              
tests positive  for M.  ovi it gets  removed from the  population.                                                              
Test and cull is  now happening in most of the  Western states and                                                              
is very  emotional and controversial.   It is something  that will                                                              
now likely  be discussed in the  state of Alaska for  forever, she                                                              
posited, because she doesn't see it going away.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE  added that  the worst  case is to  have to  eliminate a                                                              
certain  population  when  testing   shows  infection  and  it  is                                                              
warranted.   That  is  why the  Alaska  Wild  Sheep Foundation  is                                                              
pushing for  more testing  and more study  of the wild  population                                                              
as soon  as possible, he  said.  It  would be up  to organizations                                                              
like  AK WSF to  explain [to  the public]  that that  is the  best                                                              
solution.   This year  in Colorado  three or  four rams  came into                                                              
contact with domestic  sheep.  In Alaska mountain  goats came into                                                              
Palmer  and  were transported  back  to  the  mountain.   But,  he                                                              
continued,  this was  an error -  they probably  should have  been                                                              
destroyed due to  the potential of contact.  If  wild animals come                                                              
into the  proximity [of  domestics], it  is best  to play  it safe                                                              
and eliminate  those animals as  a precautionary action,  at least                                                              
until more studies have been done and more is known.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
1:54:11 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE PARISH  inquired about the  cost to test  and cull.                                                              
He  further  inquired  whether  Ms.  Schwanke  found  any  of  his                                                              
remarks to be inaccurate.                                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  replied she  doesn't have  budget figures,  but that                                                              
most Western  bighorn populations  are accessible  by road,  which                                                              
provides  opportunity  for  biologists  to drive  close  to  these                                                              
areas.   However, she  continued, these  Western state  biologists                                                              
must  still charter  helicopters  to  net-gun the  animals,  which                                                              
costs  thousands of  dollars, and  sometimes $10,000  is spent  to                                                              
capture only  a handful  of animals.   In the  areas where  M. ovi                                                              
first  started being  detected the  animals  were presenting  with                                                              
illness.  Hunters  or biologists saw animals that  were clinically                                                              
ill, so  a look was taken  and the population  tested.  It  took a                                                              
long  time  for  some  of those  states  to  come  around  to  the                                                              
decision to  cull these animals,  she related.   It is  brutal and                                                              
hard to  do, especially  when they  test positive  but still  look                                                              
healthy.   It is not as  big of a deal  if it can be  done quickly                                                              
and one  or two animals  at a time.   A few populations  have been                                                              
extirpated on  purpose by state  agencies, she continued,  because                                                              
they were such small populations or they were all infected.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE said  she didn't find any specific  inaccuracies with                                                              
Representative  Parish's  statements.   There  are many  different                                                              
scenarios  and  lots of  different  populations  have  experienced                                                              
pneumonic die-offs.   Many different pathogens have  been reported                                                              
and different  percentages  had M.  ovi, she  advised, so  lots of                                                              
different  numbers could  be  provided.   An  ongoing concern  for                                                              
populations with M.  ovi is that once a die-off  occurs, generally                                                              
5-20  percent of  the  population remains  with  the pathogen  and                                                              
becomes carriers and the population never recovers.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  TARR,  regarding her  statement  about  the accuracy  of                                                              
Representative  Parish's  statements, said  she  was referring  to                                                              
two things she wants  to ask Mr. Dale of the  Alaska Department of                                                              
Fish  & Game.   First  is that  just having  the bacteria  doesn't                                                              
mean an animal  is going to get  sick.  Second is that  the strain                                                              
detected  has  not  been  tied to  the  genetic  strain  found  in                                                              
domestic animals.                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
1:57:30 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked  when construction  of  the  Glenn                                                              
Highway  occurred, along  with the  market hunting  of wild  sheep                                                              
and use  of pack goats.   She also  asked how transmission  occurs                                                              
given the M. ovi pathogen cannot live long outside an animal.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE replied  she  doesn't  know the  exact  year, but  a                                                              
regularly traveled  dirt trail existed  by the mid-1930s  from the                                                              
Knik  River Valley  to McCarthy.   Regarding  market hunting,  she                                                              
said Jim  Reardon has  written some  excellent  books and  she has                                                              
seen photos  from those  times of  Dall sheep  hanging from  trees                                                              
next to  camps.   Jim Reardon  wrote about  specific people  along                                                              
the Richardson  Highway who  made money  market hunting  and sheep                                                              
was one of  those species.   She said she understands  that market                                                              
hunting  occurred along  the  Glenn Highway  during  construction.                                                              
She added that  homesteaders, lodges, and roadhouses  had goats to                                                              
provide milk for  travelers, so domestics were spread  up and down                                                              
those roads before they were turned into highways.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND asked  how  the pathogen  lived from  the                                                              
1930s to now.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE responded  that when population declines  occurred in                                                              
adjacent  areas  the thought  was  where pathogen  transfer  could                                                              
have come from.   Several of the respiratory pathogens  have to be                                                              
passed nose-to-nose  or within a  couple hundred yards,  she said,                                                              
and  [ADF&G] is  interested in  many  other respiratory  pathogens                                                              
when it  does testing.   It was felt  that some historic  transfer                                                              
of  pathogen could  have occurred,  but  it was  in passing  given                                                              
there  has been  no  large-scale die-off.    Different species  of                                                              
pathogens are  found in pneumonic  sheep, she explained,  and over                                                              
the past  decade it's  come to the  attention of state  biologists                                                              
that  a lot  of those  pathogens  are now  endemic  and common  in                                                              
sheep  populations  across  Alaska,  including  in  the  Talkeetna                                                              
Mountains.    When   wild  animals  are  in  close   proximity  to                                                              
homesteads  and domestics  it doesn't  take  much to  have a  Dall                                                              
sheep come  down to a  yard where there is  feed or water.   There                                                              
are photos  from Dawson of  Dall sheep  and domestics in  the same                                                              
pen.    Those Dall  sheep  had  been  living  with some  of  those                                                              
respiratory  pathogens for  a long time.   M.  ovi is a  different                                                              
pathogen,  she continued.   It has  been difficult  to detect  and                                                              
years  ago   testing  didn't   exist  for  it.     She   said  her                                                              
understanding  is that the  first testing  for M.  ovi was  in the                                                              
Chugach  sheep population  that was  collared in  2008.  The  wild                                                              
populations have  therefore been sampled  for M. ovi for  the past                                                              
10 years  and no evidence  has yet been  found of the  pathogen in                                                              
nasal  cavities through  nasal swabs  or  even exposure  to it  as                                                              
evidenced through a blood serology test looking for titers.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEHOE added  that he  describes it  as a  "one-two punch"  in                                                              
that M.  ovi is poly-microbial -  it creates an  immune deficiency                                                              
by disarming the  cilia in the linings of the  airways, which then                                                              
allows these  other pathogens, which  could have  been transmitted                                                              
way back  when.  The  blood tests described  by Ms.  Schwanke have                                                              
found that many  of those are already in the population.   He said                                                              
it  can  be  thought  of as  "kindling  waiting  for  the  match,"                                                              
meaning  one  is  already  out  there and  if  the  match  can  be                                                              
prevented from hitting the kindling then there is a shot.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:05:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  inquired whether test and cull  is of the                                                              
wild or the domestic population.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE  answered  she is  specifically  talking  about  the                                                              
wildlife populations  in the Western  states.  It is  the wildlife                                                              
populations  that have  experienced pneumonic  die-offs and  those                                                              
are  the focus  of how  to  stop it  and how  to  get those  herds                                                              
healthy again.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND referenced a  document reporting  that 39                                                              
mountain goats on  the Kenai Peninsula were captured  and analyzed                                                              
and  2  tested positive.    She  asked  whether those  goats  were                                                              
tested and released.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  offered her understanding  that they  were released.                                                              
She explained  the goats were  radio collared, samples  taken, and                                                              
the  samples sent  to  a lab,  and  it can  take  days, weeks,  or                                                              
longer to get the full test results.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  surmised  that  to test  and  cull,  the                                                              
testers would have had to retain the animals.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  replied  right.  At  this time  the technology  that                                                              
the department  is utilizing is  standard draw the blood,  send it                                                              
to a  lab in Washington,  and have it  sampled.  Newer  technology                                                              
is  being tested  by Washington  State University  that allows  in                                                              
the field-testing that takes up to 45 minutes to get a result.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND inquired  about the  testing of  Alaska's                                                              
domestic  population,   which  is  much  smaller   than  the  wild                                                              
population, and which was talked about by Mr. Kehoe.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE  responded that cull is  the option that  would probably                                                              
have to take  place for the wild.   But for domestic,  mitigate is                                                              
the  term   used  because   there  are   three  options   -  cull,                                                              
quarantine,  or ship.   To go M.  ovi free  it is essentially  the                                                              
same look in both cases.                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE DRUMMOND  asked whether the meat of  culled animals                                                              
is edible.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE answered the meat is not affected at all.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
2:07:42 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER  inquired how  long before an  animal dies                                                              
once it has contracted this disease.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS.  SCHWANKE   replied  it   depends  on   the  strain   and  the                                                              
interaction between  the pathogen and  the wild animal.   It could                                                              
be as  quick as 24 hours  or could take  weeks or could  be never.                                                              
The hope is that it is a benign strain and nothing happens.                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER surmised  that  if the  disease had  been                                                              
passed  to the  wild animals  by [pack  goats] 10  years ago  then                                                              
they would have been "wiped out" by now.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE responded  not necessarily.  These  pathogens come in                                                              
many different  strains and  some are  more virulent than  others.                                                              
Had there  been a virulent  strain of M.  ovi or another  pathogen                                                              
60-80 years  ago, then,  yes, it would  be remnant populations  of                                                              
Dall sheep and mountain goats in those areas.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER said that was not his question.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE added  that in current testing about 4-5  percent of the                                                              
domestics were positive.   It is possible that that  group of pack                                                              
goats  wasn't infected  and then  there are  the variables  talked                                                              
about by Ms. Schwanke.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
2:10:05 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER  offered his  understanding  it is  being                                                              
said that this  is an emergency, that these animals  could contact                                                              
something that could  wipe them out.  He asked why  it didn't wipe                                                              
out  the population  10  years  ago if  they  contracted  it.   He                                                              
further asked whether  it is being said that  the wild populations                                                              
could contract it and not be wiped out.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  KEHOE confirmed  it's possible  the  populations wouldn't  be                                                              
wiped out,  which is  what Ms.  Schwanke explained.   The  hope is                                                              
that it is relatively  benign.  But, he continued,  the problem is                                                              
that  currently there  are more  questions than  answers and  what                                                              
that  says is  there isn't  an emergency  that  can absolutely  be                                                              
declared because not  enough is known.  It says there  needs to be                                                              
surveys and to take  it aggressively to find out  whether there is                                                              
a problem.  Perhaps  that's an over-reaction, but  it's the safest                                                              
way because under-reaction could result in being bitten.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER opined  that hunting  with pack  goats is                                                              
not mating with wildlife and that they never touch each other.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:11:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON offered her  understanding that  the goats                                                              
that were  collared, tested, and  released in the Kenai  area came                                                              
up positive.   She  asked why  ADF&G biologists  couldn't  be sent                                                              
back to [cull] those collared goats.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  answered there  are differing professional  opinions                                                              
on what to do  with an animal that has tested  positive with this.                                                              
If it  were up  to her  she would immediately  helicopter  out and                                                              
euthanize  those  animals  to remove  them  from  the  population.                                                              
Other  professionals  take  the wait-and-see  approach  and  won't                                                              
kill a  healthy-looking animal when  nothing has happened.   Those                                                              
are the two ends of a hotly debated discussion right now.                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE   JOHNSON   asked  how   the   Alaska  Wild   Sheep                                                              
Foundation would  feel about  hunters packing  a test kit  to swab                                                              
animals at harvest.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. KEHOE  replied  AK WSF advocated  for and  offered funds  last                                                              
year to  do that, but  the money wasn't  needed because  the state                                                              
came up  with funds.  Hunter-killed  [Dall] sheep are  required to                                                              
be sealed by ADF&G,  he explained, and he is  unsure whether these                                                              
animals were  tested in the  field by the  hunters or by  ADF&G at                                                              
sealing.   The department  very aggressively  tested at  its check                                                              
stations.   He  said AK  WSF would  be  working aggressively  this                                                              
year to promote the testing of harvested animals.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  JOHNSON  inquired  as  to how  many  [tests]  were                                                              
received from hunters.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE  deferred to ADF&G  for an  answer.  She  offered her                                                              
belief that about  300 samples were taken  between hunter-reported                                                              
kits and animals swabbed by ADF&G at sealing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
2:14:50 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  LINCOLN  asked  whether  ADFG  currently  has  the                                                              
statutory authority to make a decision to cull.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS. SCHWANKE deferred to ADF&G to provide an answer.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:15:47 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  requested Mr.  Bruce Dale of  ADF&G to  discuss the                                                              
recently  received test  results and  whether it  is correct  that                                                              
the strain  detected is not  tied to the  genetic strain  found in                                                              
domestic animals.   She further requested Mr. Dale  to address the                                                              
previous  statements that  it  is unknown  where  and when  [wild]                                                              
animals may have been exposed.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
2:16:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
BRUCE DALE,  Director, Division  of Wildlife Conservation,  Alaska                                                              
Department  of Fish  &  Game (ADF&G),  reported  ADF&G hasn't  yet                                                              
completed  work  with the  laboratory  on identifying  the  strain                                                              
that  was  found  in the  wild  goats  and  sheep.   The  work  is                                                              
ongoing, he  said, and  requires looking  at additional  genes and                                                              
comparing them for matches with known samples in the gene bank.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  related that according  to the ADF&G  press release                                                              
the  positive-testing   sheep  were   harvested  by   hunters  and                                                              
appeared to  be healthy.   She asked whether  ADF&G is  taking the                                                              
wait-and-see/need-more-information  approach  or  the approach  of                                                              
culling the positive-testing wild animals.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DALE responded  the positive-testing  sheep appeared  healthy                                                              
in every  respect to  the hunters  who brought them  in.   He said                                                              
ADF&G  is   waiting  to  develop   a  monitoring  plan   for  that                                                              
population  and  is  trying  to decide  whether  to  collar  them.                                                              
There is  some chance  that handling an  infected animal  and then                                                              
handling other  animals afterwards  could spread the  bacteria, he                                                              
explained, so  ADF&G is looking  to identify the strains  and then                                                              
develop a  monitoring plan.  There  are additional samples  yet to                                                              
be run and it may  be found that it is a larger  area that must be                                                              
worked with.  The  monitoring plan for the sheep  must be based on                                                              
the area.   He noted that  samples have been collected  from large                                                              
parts of the state that did not test positive.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR. DALE said  the goats that tested positive  are radio collared,                                                              
so  ADF&G is  able to  monitor their  health.   Regarding  culling                                                              
those animals,  he noted it is  two positive goats and  three more                                                              
still  needing additional  testing that  are possibles.   That  is                                                              
two out of  39, he continued,  which tells that there  very likely                                                              
are many  other positive  goats on  the Kenai.   Removing  the two                                                              
from  that   sample  wouldn't   remove  the   bacteria  from   the                                                              
population.   Those two goats can  tell the department  whether or                                                              
not they are going  to get sick, so they are  more valuable onsite                                                              
right  now so ADF&G  can monitor  their health  and determine  how                                                              
extreme of a reaction should be had with these animals.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
2:19:43 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE LINCOLN  urged his question not be  misconstrued as                                                              
being in  favor of culling.   He asked  whether Mr.  Dale believes                                                              
ADF&G  has the  authority and  tools  necessary to  make the  best                                                              
decision for how to address this issue in the wild populations.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DALE answered  ADF&G wishes  it had  more tools  but, of  the                                                              
known tools,  the department has  those in its toolbox.   Hundreds                                                              
of  samples have  been collected,  so ADF&G  has done  a good  and                                                              
aggressive job  of getting out there,  especially in the  last few                                                              
years, to screen  as much as it  can for this and  other diseases.                                                              
The department  has been monitoring  diseases for a long  time, he                                                              
said,  it  is  part  of  what  ADF&G   does.    For  example,  the                                                              
department  is monitoring other  issues, such  as winter  kick and                                                              
chronic wasting  disease, both of  which would be  catastrophic to                                                              
moose and  caribou populations.   Despite Alaska's lack  of roads,                                                              
he  continued, ADF&G  probably  has a  more  extensive program  of                                                              
handling  animals than  do most  states  and can  handle and  cull                                                              
animals.  He reiterated he believes ADF&G has the tools.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
2:21:20 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR opened public testimony on HCR 23.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:21:24 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
PAUL FINCH,  Agent, North  Country Farm,  testified that  his herd                                                              
of  goats reproduces  to about  70  animals every  summer and  are                                                              
marketed for their  meat.  He said HCR 23 is a  complex issue that                                                              
puts  Alaska's  small farms  with  goats  and sheep  at  economic,                                                              
legal,   and  emotional   risk   that  may   potentially  not   be                                                              
survivable.   He argued  that theoretical data  from the  Lower 48                                                              
is being  used to fuel  the premise behind  HCR 23.  He  urged the                                                              
committee  to  allow  appropriate   input  from  farmers  on  this                                                              
hunter-sponsored resolution  to find a common-sense  solution that                                                              
protects all parties.                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:23:01 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR JOSEPHSON  inquired whether Mr. Finch is  suggesting that                                                              
the Mountain West die-off is not M. ovi related.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. FINCH  replied that is  not what he said.   The issue  is that                                                              
the  grazing  habits  in the  Lower  48  have  no bearing  on  the                                                              
Alaskan picture.   There  are many  barriers between domestic  and                                                              
wild populations  that  will never  be overcome,  he said,  so the                                                              
initial proposals  from the [AK WSF] and others  were overreaching                                                              
shock statements  designed to  produce results.   It is  worrisome                                                              
that this  is a unidirectional  steppingstone toward  unreasonable                                                              
mitigation measures.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:24:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  asked  what  Mr.  Finch would  view  as  a                                                              
reasonable solution.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FINCH  responded that  various goat groups  in the  state have                                                              
proposed very reasonable,  step-wise solutions.   While he doesn't                                                              
have those  handy,  he continued,  it is basically  that the  risk                                                              
needs to  be stratified  and applied  in appropriate  geographical                                                              
measure.   Nobody  wants to  hurt wild  populations, he  stressed,                                                              
but it  isn't appropriate to impose  draconian measures on  a herd                                                              
that will never  see wild sheep habitat and that  the closest they                                                              
will come  is in frozen  packages in the  freezer.  More  time and                                                              
more input from these groups needs to happen, he added.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  stated she would  be thinking about both  angles as                                                              
the committee considers HCR 23.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
2:25:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
TIANA  THOMAS,   Mutual  Aid  Network  of  Livestock   Owners  and                                                              
Producers,  testified  that  HCR   23  would  be  an  ineffective,                                                              
costly, and crippling  blow against food security  and food access                                                              
in  Alaska.   She stated  that 3  percent of  the Alaska  domestic                                                              
sheep in  which it was found  are asymptomatic.  She  further said                                                              
that these sheep  cannot spread it past one foot  because they are                                                              
not sick  and not  coughing and  so do not  broadcast it  into the                                                              
air.  She maintained  that the goat variant, which  is likely what                                                              
the GMU 13A  goats were exposed  to many years ago, is  not fatal.                                                              
The  sheep  variant is  fatal,  especially  when  commercial-sized                                                              
herds  are going  into habitat,  but  Alaska does  not have  that.                                                              
Alaska  also doesn't  have  transplanted  animals  that have  lost                                                              
their historic  travel patterns  and are  more likely  to interact                                                              
with domestics.   She said the quotes on science  are conveniently                                                              
ignoring  studies that  state  packhorses are  as  lethal as  pack                                                              
goats with a different bacterium.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MS. THOMAS  stated that to  demand the state  be M. ovi free  is a                                                              
scientific  impossibility  because it  cannot  be  proved that  it                                                              
won't exist.  She  said the [AK WSF] has stated  it will not allow                                                              
an animal  to be proved  negative if it  has tested  positive once                                                              
on serology, which  means the animal has had it and  beaten it off                                                              
and is no longer  carrying it.  She argued that  if the nasal swab                                                              
is negative  and the animal  just has an  antibody remnant  in its                                                              
blood, it  is no longer  a transmitter  or carrier.   However, she                                                              
continued, the  [AK WSF] will not  allow that animal to  be proven                                                              
negative no matter how many negative nasal swabs it has.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MS.  THOMAS added  that current  science states  a positive  nasal                                                              
swab does  not indicate the presence  of infection.   Detection is                                                              
not  infection, she  said.   The  same animal  in many  subsequent                                                              
tests  will  come up  negative;  they  can clear  the  mycoplasma.                                                              
Infection  is not  lethal in  every case.   She  charged that  the                                                              
science  is  being  conveniently  edited for  the  worst  possible                                                              
outcome.   She said  her organization's  solution  is to cull  via                                                              
isolation   rather  than   to  cull  via   euthanasia,  but   this                                                              
[proposed] solution is being ignored.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
2:29:18 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH inquired  about the  percentages that  were                                                              
found in the results from voluntary testing.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. THOMAS  replied that  about 80  percent of her  organization's                                                              
members have had  their flocks cleared through  voluntary testing.                                                              
Of the  rest, about 3  percent of the sheep  and 1 percent  of the                                                              
goats were asymptomatic  detection.  However, she  reiterated, the                                                              
goat  strain  is not  as  lethal  as  the sheep  strain,  so  goat                                                              
contact is  not a concern.   She noted that  1 percent could  be a                                                              
statistical anomaly; it could be a false positive.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
2:30:13 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  DRUMMOND  asked  whether the  livestock  producers                                                              
who are  members of  Mutual Aid  Network of  Livestock Owners  and                                                              
Producers are  in Alaska.   She further  asked whether  Ms. Thomas                                                              
is located in Alaska and, if so, where.                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. THOMAS  replied she is  in Alaska and  resides within  GMU 14.                                                              
She was born in  Juneau and moved to her current  location in 1985                                                              
and has been involved with livestock ever since.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:31:22 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
AMY  SEITZ,   Executive  Director,   Alaska  Farm  Bureau,   Inc.,                                                              
testified  the bureau  agrees with  HCR 23's  intent to  encourage                                                              
agencies to protect  the health of Alaska's wildlife  and domestic                                                              
animals.    However,  she  continued, the  bureau  would  like  to                                                              
address  the clause  on page 1,  line 13,  which states,  "WHEREAS                                                              
the state subscribes  to science-based wildlife management".   She                                                              
agreed that having  effective practices in place is  key, and said                                                              
the Alaska Farm  Bureau wants to ensure that the  science used for                                                              
managing  Alaska's resources  is  relevant to  Alaska.   It  isn't                                                              
prudent  to encourage  agencies  to implement  decisions based  on                                                              
situations or information pertinent in other states.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MS. SEITZ  stated that  in working  with agencies  on the  current                                                              
issue  of domestic  and wild  sheep  and goat  interaction and  M.                                                              
ovi,  the bureau  has found  the agencies  are doing  what HCR  23                                                              
encourages.   They  are  gathering  the information  necessary  to                                                              
base a  decision on science relevant  to Alaska and  Alaska's Dall                                                              
sheep  populations.   Taking  this  action  is the  necessary  and                                                              
prudent  route  as  opposed  to  implementing  a  solution  before                                                              
having  the facts.   Instead of  passing a  resolution like  this,                                                              
she said,  the legislature  could encourage  and support  Alaska's                                                              
agencies  in  their efforts  by  doing  things like  enacting  [HB                                                              
315].  That bill  would encourage people to test  their animals so                                                              
Alaska's agencies  would know what  diseases are out  there, would                                                              
help  with  early  detection,  and would  give  agencies  time  to                                                              
respond appropriately.   While the intent  of HCR 23 is  fine, she                                                              
reiterated, the Alaska  Farm Bureau believes there  are other ways                                                              
the legislature could show its support for agencies.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
2:33:36 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
JOHN  STURGEON,  First  Vice President,  Alaska  Outdoor  Council,                                                              
testified  in  support  of  the  Alaska  Wild  Sheep  Foundation's                                                              
efforts and thanked  the sponsor for introducing HCR  23.  He said                                                              
HCR 23  is a  good step  to help solve  a potentially  devastating                                                              
problem in  Alaska's wild  sheep, goats,  and muskoxen.   Alaska's                                                              
wildlife is  valuable for  hunting and viewing  and Alaska  is the                                                              
only  state with  Dall sheep,  a treasure  that needs  to be  kept                                                              
healthy.   In  the Lower  48, he  related,  it is  not unusual  to                                                              
require the  testing of domestic  animals to ensure they  are free                                                              
of disease  that could infect  other domestic animals  or wildlife                                                              
populations.   From 25  years of hunting  in Montana  and Wyoming,                                                              
he said,  he is aware  of mountain ranges  where 70-80  percent of                                                              
the sheep have  been killed by M.  ovi.  This very  deadly disease                                                              
shouldn't  be  underestimated,  he  stressed.   It  lurks  in  the                                                              
background  until the  conditions  are right,  then  it gives  the                                                              
double whammy of  another pathogen coming in and the  sheep die in                                                              
large numbers.   Regarding  the question  about what the  domestic                                                              
folks would propose  for a solution, he said he  thinks the Alaska                                                              
Wild Sheep Foundation's proposal to pay for testing is generous.                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:36:48 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR closed public testimony on HCR 23.                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
2:37:06 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR TARR  asked Dr.  Gerlach whether  eradicating the  M. ovi                                                              
bacteria from Alaska is a realistic goal.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
2:37:26 PM                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
ROBERT   GERLACH,    DVM,   State   Veterinarian,    Division   of                                                              
Environmental  Health,  Department of  Environmental  Conservation                                                              
(DEC),  replied  that  the  total  elimination  of  a  disease  is                                                              
extremely  difficult.   Only  two  diseases have  been  completely                                                              
eliminated  in the  world   rinderpest  in cattle  and small  pox.                                                              
Rinderpest was identified  as cattle fever in the  1700's and most                                                              
veterinary schools  were formed to address that  disease, he said.                                                              
It took  until just  a couple years  ago to eliminate  rinderpest,                                                              
he continued, so  to totally eliminate a pathogen  is an extremely                                                              
large and costly task.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
[HCR 23 was held over.]                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HCR23 Game Mngmnt Unit 13.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23-wildlife econ importance-in-2011-summary-report.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23_ NR_Movi Detected_3-13-18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR 23_AK-WSF-PRESS-RELEASE.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23_ AK WSF Support Ltr.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23_dalls_sheep_news_winter_2017.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HB 315 Transmittal Letter 2.14.2018.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 ver A 2.14.2018.PDF HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Fiscal Note DEC-EHL 2.14.2018.PDF HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Supporting Document - Presentation 3.15.18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Additional Documentation - DEC Letter re Alaska Grown 2.14.2018.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB 315 Supporting Documents - Homer Swift Creek Ranch 2.8.2018.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315
HB260 Sponsor Statement 1.25.18.pdf HFSH 2/20/2018 11:00:00 AM
HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/4/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 260
HB260 ver A 1.25.18.pdf HFSH 2/20/2018 11:00:00 AM
HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/4/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 260
HB260 Residential Hunters AK Letter of Support HB 260.pdf HFSH 2/20/2018 11:00:00 AM
HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 260
HB 260 Fiscal Note-DFG- 2.16.18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/4/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 260
HB 260 Supporting Document - Status of Electronic Fish Game licenses, mobile apps and websites in other states 3.15.18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/4/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 260
HCR 23 Version A .PDF HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 Disease Free in the North.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR 23 Supporting Document - Territorial Sportsmen 3.16.18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR 23 Fiscal Note - LEG-SESS- 03.16.18.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 Support ltr, AK Prof Hunters Assoc..pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 Opposition, Judd.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR 23 Opposition, Crosby.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HCR 23
HB315 Support, AK WSF Comments.pdf HRES 3/16/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/21/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/23/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 3/26/2018 1:00:00 PM
HRES 4/2/2018 1:00:00 PM
HB 315