Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/16/2003 03:34 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
            SB 147-CONTROL OF NUISANCE WILD ANIMALS                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MS. JACQUELINE TUPOU, staff to  Senator Lyda Green, sponsor of SB                                                               
147, gave the following testimony.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     This legislation  before you provides authority  to the                                                                    
     Alaska  Board of  Game to  adopt regulations  that will                                                                    
     allow  the   issuance  of   permits  and   licenses  to                                                                    
     sanctioned  designees to  control  nuisance wild  birds                                                                    
     and nuisance  wild small  mammals. Currently,  there is                                                                    
     no  statutory authority  for nuisance  wildlife control                                                                    
     and  the means  by which  ADF&G can  sell a  license or                                                                    
     issue a permit... The first  thing this bill does is it                                                                    
     creates a  new professional license that  can be issued                                                                    
     by the  Department of Fish  and Game, and  that doesn't                                                                    
     go into  effect, if you'll  notice, until July  '04. It                                                                    
     gives  the  department  sufficient time  to  write  the                                                                    
     [regulations].                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU said  the bill also gives the  department the authority                                                               
to work with persons and  families who need assistance in getting                                                               
rid  of nuisance  wild animals.  The department  can provide  the                                                               
names of people who are licensed to deal with these problems.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked who this bill  attempts to help and what kind of                                                               
animals fall into this category.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU  said she is  not completely familiar with  the history                                                               
of   this  legislation   but  Senator   Green   has  heard   from                                                               
constituents who have had wild  animals in their yards that cause                                                               
problems with their  children and livestock. She  pointed out the                                                               
department has  knowledge of  the behavior  of these  animals and                                                               
can advise a proper course of action.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN noted  that beavers can be very  destructive. He asked                                                               
if SB 147  gives ADF&G the discretion to decide  whether to issue                                                               
a permit for a specific animal.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MS.   TUPOU  deferred   to  a   representative  from   ADF&G  for                                                               
information  on specific  animals  but said  the department  will                                                               
have ample time to write regulations.                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN  asked if this  legislation will allow someone  to set                                                               
up a business to control nuisance animals.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU said that could well  be a financial by-product of this                                                               
legislation. The department will  issue licenses to businesses to                                                               
perform these services.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if this  bill would create two  classes of                                                               
permittees -  one for the  homeowner for  non-commercial control,                                                               
the other for  a professional who is compensated  and that person                                                               
would be regulated by ADF&G.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU said that is correct but  it is up to the department as                                                               
to whether  it wants  to issue  permits. She  said if  she called                                                               
ADF&G about  a wild animal in  her yard, ADF&G could  confer with                                                               
her about her plan of action  and grant her authority to carry it                                                               
out. Otherwise,  ADF&G could  choose to  refer her  to a  list of                                                               
licensed professionals.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR SEEKINS  commented that anyone  making money must  have a                                                               
license.                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR WAGONER asked whether this  legislation has been reviewed                                                               
to ensure compliance with federal law.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU  said that ADF&G  will have to address  compliance with                                                               
federal laws.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR.  GORDY  WILLIAMS,  legislative  liaison  to  ADF&G,  informed                                                               
committee members  that SB 147  is identical, with  the exception                                                               
of the  effective date, to SB  205, which passed the  Senate last                                                               
year but did not make it  through the House prior to adjournment.                                                               
ADF&G  worked with  Senator Green  last year;  its concerns  were                                                               
addressed  in  that  bill  and  are  contained  in  SB  147.  The                                                               
effective date of July 1, 2004  in SB 147 will provide ample time                                                               
to  allow the  Board of  Game  to adopt  regulations. ADF&G  also                                                               
requested  the language  on page  2, paragraph  B, [Sec.  4] that                                                               
pertains to permitting  be included. He stated  the bill provides                                                               
two  routes  to address  problems:  the  licensing of  commercial                                                               
entities and  permits to individuals  issued by ADF&G.  He stated                                                               
support for SB 147.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOUG LARSEN,  Assistant Director of the  Division of Wildlife                                                               
Conservation,  ADF&G, said  when this  legislation was  discussed                                                               
last year, ADF&G and the  Department of Transportation and Public                                                               
Facilities  had  differing  opinions   on  how  beaver  would  be                                                               
addressed. He asked if that issue was resolved.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILLIAMS  said it was  resolved. Currently, DOTPF  deals with                                                               
beaver  problems  on  a case-by-case  basis.  It  wanted  blanket                                                               
authority to get an annual permit  for a specific area. ADF&G and                                                               
DOTPF have addressed that concern.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR  OGAN asked  what animals  will come  under the  purview of                                                               
this bill.                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. DOUG LARSEN,  Assistant Director of the  Division of Wildlife                                                               
Conservation,  ADF&G,  said that  hunting  seasons  are open  for                                                               
several  species   of  small   animals,  however   people  cannot                                                               
discharge a firearm within city  limits. In addition, some people                                                               
are  unable  to, or  might  not  want  to,  deal with  an  animal                                                               
themselves.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN asked if the Board  of Game could write regulations to                                                               
encourage humane capture rather than killing.                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. LARSEN said he envisions  the board setting up guidelines for                                                               
these  permits so  that every  effort would  be made  to rid  the                                                               
animal with non-lethal  actions; lethal actions would  be used as                                                               
a last resort.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR LINCOLN  said when she  lived in Fairbanks,  her neighbor                                                               
loved pigeons and  encouraged their presence by  feeding them. At                                                               
first, a few pigeons perched  on the neighbor's house but, within                                                               
a short  period of time,  the number multiplied and  many perched                                                               
on her home. She asked how ADF&G would address that situation.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LARSEN said  that is  a good  question. He  felt any  time a                                                               
person  attracts  an animal,  there  will  have to  be  [special]                                                               
provisions.  He said  as an  example, ADF&G  does all  it can  to                                                               
discourage people  from doing certain things  that attract bears,                                                               
such as  putting out  birdseed. He said  he believes  ADF&G would                                                               
want to  approach the nuisance  wildlife animal  issue similarly.                                                               
He pointed out that pigeons  are classified as deleterious exotic                                                               
wildlife so there is no limit and no season.                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  SEEKINS asked  for a  definition of  "small mammal"  and                                                               
whether it includes coyotes.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
MR.  LARSEN  said  ADF&G  does  not  have  a  definition  in  its                                                               
regulations.  The Board  of Game  will  have to  figure out  what                                                               
species fall  in that category.  ADF&G would consider  coyotes to                                                               
be a small mammal but it is up  to the board to decide whether to                                                               
include them.                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MS. TUPOU  noted that  members' packets contain  a list  of small                                                               
mammals suggested by constituents that should be included.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON asked  if there is a reason  that invasive species,                                                               
such as Northern Pike, were not included.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
MR. LARSEN  replied, "...I  believe that they  are. When  we talk                                                               
about deleterious exotic wildlife,  we're talking strictly on the                                                               
wildlife  side  and  not  the  fish side  but  there  are  exotic                                                               
examples on the fish side, as  well as plant communities that are                                                               
classified so  I think  that those are  covered but  they're just                                                               
not covered in the wildlife side."                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON asked if those  species could be included under the                                                               
business permit from ADF&G.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. LARSEN  said he hadn't  thought about fish  related resources                                                               
and does not know how that would  be handled. He said the bill is                                                               
specific to nuisance  wild birds and nuisance wild  animals so he                                                               
assumes  fish and  plant species  would not  be included  for the                                                               
purposes of this bill.                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. WILLIAMS added  that ADF&G is developing  an invasive species                                                               
policy  and  that  he  would   get  back  to  members  with  more                                                               
information.                                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN took public testimony.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. ROBERT  DURAN, a resident of  Wasilla, told members he  has a                                                               
vested  interest in  this legislation  as he  started a  business                                                               
last  year named  Nuisance Wildlife  Management. He  has been  in                                                               
constant  contact   with  ADF&G,  the  U.S.   Fish  and  Wildlife                                                               
Protection Agency, the  Alaska State Troopers, the  U.S. Fish and                                                               
Wildlife  Service and  local animal  control shelters  about this                                                               
issue. He supports this legislation.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR.  DURAN   said  with   more  and   more  development   in  the                                                               
Southcentral area, there is more  impact from wildlife. He is not                                                               
always able to respond to the  phone calls he gets about nuisance                                                               
wildlife because  a particular  species might  be outside  of the                                                               
regular  hunting  or  trapping  season.  Alaska  law  contains  a                                                               
provision for  defense of life  and property, but  the individual                                                               
homeowner  would have  to deal  with the  animal him  or herself.                                                               
Oftentimes, that is not possible  because the person may not have                                                               
the equipment  to do so or  is physically incapable of  doing so.                                                               
He  believes  his business  will  be  able to  assist  government                                                               
agencies with nuisance  wildlife complaints, as they  do not have                                                               
the time to  deal with them. He has received  a positive response                                                               
from  those  agencies. He  told  members  that nuisance  wildlife                                                               
businesses are  operating in the  Lower 48; they relieve  a great                                                               
deal  of pressure  from wildlife  management  agencies. He  said,                                                               
regarding  endangered or  other species  that come  under federal                                                               
jurisdiction, his business would be  accountable to the U.S. Fish                                                               
and Wildlife  Service. He pointed  out that nuisance  mammals can                                                               
be taken live.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  LINCOLN  asked  Mr.  Duran  to  respond  to  the  pigeon                                                               
scenario she described earlier.                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. DURAN said  he would set a live trap  for those birds, remove                                                               
them from  the premises and  try to  relocate them. He  said that                                                               
pigeon droppings  near ventilation systems can  cause illness. He                                                               
would  not want  to cause  strife between  neighbors so  he would                                                               
have to  address both parties and  then act in the  best interest                                                               
of all of the people involved.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN said that geese are  very messy and considered to be a                                                               
nuisance by many people. He asked  how one would relocate a goose                                                               
and  whether  Mr. Duran  anticipates  having  to deal  with  wild                                                               
geese.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. DURAN said  he does and has already received  one call from a                                                               
local golf course  owner. He said it is not  feasible to relocate                                                               
a bird  that is capable  of flying hundreds  of miles at  a time.                                                               
However, effigies  could be  put up  on properties  to discourage                                                               
them from stopping  on that property. He said by  effigies, he is                                                               
referring to predator decoys or loud noisemakers.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
5:00 p.m.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN  noted that this  legislation already made  it through                                                               
the Senate last  year and is not terribly controversial  so he is                                                               
willing to move it from committee.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
SENATOR  WAGONER  moved SB  147  from  committee with  individual                                                               
recommendations and its attached fiscal notes.                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
CHAIR OGAN announced that without  objection, the motion carried.                                                               
There being no further business  to come before the committee, he                                                               
adjourned the meeting at 5:02 p.m.                                                                                              

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