Legislature(2003 - 2004)

04/30/2003 03:33 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
           SB 155-PREDATOR CONTROL/AIRBORNE SHOOTING                                                                        
SENATOR  RALPH SEEKINS,  sponsor  of  SB 155,  moved  to adopt  a                                                               
proposed committee substitute, labeled  Version V, as the working                                                               
document of the committee.                                                                                                      
SENATOR ELTON objected for the purpose of an explanation.                                                                       
SENATOR SEEKINS  told members  there has been  a title  change to                                                               
clarify  the intent  of  the legislation.  He  said the  original                                                               
title  read,  "An  Act  relating to  hunting  and  predators  and                                                               
providing for  an effective date."  The new title reads,  "An Act                                                               
relating  to  predator  control programs  and  providing  for  an                                                               
effective date," which pertains  to predator control programs and                                                               
has nothing to do with hunting.                                                                                                 
MR.  BRIAN HOVE,  staff to  Senator Seekins,  gave the  following                                                               
explanation of the measure.                                                                                                     
     SB 155  revises language with Section  16.05.783 of the                                                                    
     Alaska statutes relating to the  regulation of fish and                                                                    
     game. These  revisions provide the fish  and game board                                                                    
     and   commissioner   with   necessary  tools   in   the                                                                    
     management  of game  populations throughout  the state.                                                                    
     The  first revision  clarifies legislative  intent with                                                                    
     respect  to  airborne  predator control  programs.  The                                                                    
     second   revision   provides    for   game   population                                                                    
     objectives   to   be   taken  into   consideration   in                                                                    
     determining whether  or not a predator  control program                                                                    
     should be implemented. It allows  the board to use both                                                                    
     prey  and game  population  objectives  for making  the                                                                    
     determination  with respect  to the  use of  a predator                                                                    
     control program.                                                                                                           
     SB 155 makes changes that  will allow the fish and game                                                                    
     board, as well  as the Department of Fish  and Game, to                                                                    
     better manage  wildlife by balancing predator  and game                                                                    
     populations based on the best science available.                                                                           
VICE-CHAIR  WAGONER  announced  with no  further  questions  from                                                               
members, the committee would take public testimony.                                                                             
MS. JENNA WHITE stated opposition  to the essence and practice of                                                               
SB  155,  which will  allow  same  day  airborne hunting  by  the                                                               
public.  She  said  she  is  well  aware  of  the  importance  of                                                               
harvesting  moose as  a necessary  food  for the  table. She  has                                                               
lived many  years in remote  locations where  hunting, gathering,                                                               
and gardening were her only means  of food. However, she has many                                                               
concerns  about   implementing  this   practice.  She   made  the                                                               
following points.                                                                                                               
   · Moose population numbers are unknown in much of Alaska,                                                                    
     even  in   many  areas  where  intensive   predator  control                                                               
     management  is  utilized. For  example,  two  times as  many                                                               
     moose are now known to inhabit  Unit 19D East and Unit 13 as                                                               
     were previously estimated. The area  is very large with vast                                                               
     topographical  variations.   Although  harvest   levels  are                                                               
     estimated, true population numbers  are not known. Intensive                                                               
     management practices should not  be utilized when population                                                               
     numbers and trends are simply "guestimates."                                                                               
   · Removal of the commissioner's authority to act on findings                                                                 
     of  the  Board of  Game  to  decide whether  this  intensive                                                               
     management  procedure  should   be  utilized  overrides  the                                                               
     existing system of checks and balances.                                                                                    
   · Aerial shooting by members of the public creates a threat                                                                  
     to public safety  and property rights. Many  areas of Alaska                                                               
     have minimal wildlife law  enforcement. The probability that                                                               
    non-targeted wildlife and people could be shot is high.                                                                     
   · Alaskans have voted down this method of hunting twice.                                                                     
   · It is likely that moose numbers are decreasing statewide                                                                   
     from  the  elevated  populations   of  the  1980s.  However,                                                               
     keeping  population  numbers  at high  levels  for  extended                                                               
     periods of  time is inevitably  unsustainable and  will lead                                                               
     to population crashes.                                                                                                     
MS. WHITE  said there  are more moderate  and acceptable  ways to                                                               
manage  wildlife  and  to  represent the  needs  and  desires  of                                                               
MR. PAUL  JOSLIN, conservation biologist for  the Alaska Wildlife                                                               
Alliance,  said  the  Alliance  is  opposed to  SB  155  and  its                                                               
companion bill,  HB 208.  The Alliance  sees this  legislation as                                                               
highly divisive  and unnecessary.   Same day airborne  hunting of                                                               
wolves has  not reduced the  overall killing of wolves  in Alaska                                                               
in the  past. He noted he  provided members with copies  of data,                                                               
the harvest records from 1978  to 2002 to support that statement.                                                               
Over the  last 25 years,  the number  of wolves killed  each year                                                               
has increased from  600 to 1500 per year. It  is obvious why this                                                               
jump occurred  even though airborne  hunting of  wolves occurred:                                                               
during that time, the population  of Alaska has increased over 50                                                               
percent, meaning  the wolves  are more at  risk because  of human                                                               
presence. Newer hunting tools have  exploded onto the scene, such                                                               
as M-16s. The number of  snowmobiles has increased substantially.                                                               
He said the  Board of Game has already  liberalized, for purposes                                                               
of  control,  the  ability  to pursue  wolves  actively  on  snow                                                               
machines. He questioned  why anyone would want to  add this extra                                                               
method to the toolbox.                                                                                                          
MR. JOSLIN said  the legislature needs to be  concerned about the                                                               
current number of  wolves being killed in the  state. He believes                                                               
voters  have become  more  aware  that the  take  has jumped  150                                                               
percent in  the past  25 years and  they question  whether things                                                               
have changed that much. They will  look to legislators for a more                                                               
reasonable alignment  if the Board  of Game  does not do  it. The                                                               
legislature  has  already  heard  from  Alaskan  voters  on  this                                                               
question  twice.   Instead  of   looking  for   predator  control                                                               
expansion,  Mr. Joslin  asked members  to look  at other  ways to                                                               
solve this problem.  For example, in McGrath, there is  a need to                                                               
add another 30  moose to the harvestable take. He  said this bill                                                               
moves in the wrong direction.                                                                                                   
MR.  JOSLIN  said, regarding  the  recent  change to  remove  the                                                               
commissioner  from  the  process,  he agrees  with  the  previous                                                               
speaker that a  check and balance is necessary.  He recalled that                                                               
Mr. Robus  pointed out at  the last  meeting that biology  is not                                                               
the only consideration.                                                                                                         
SENATOR LINCOLN thanked Mr. Joslin  for his testimony but pointed                                                               
out the Dittman survey he referred  to asked the question: Do you                                                               
feel  the  State  of  Alaska  should or  should  not  sponsor  an                                                               
experiment  to see  if killing  all wolves  and removing  as many                                                               
black  bear ...  would result  in significantly  more moose?  She                                                               
said  the  general public  was  not  responding to  reducing  the                                                               
predator population but  was responding to a  question of killing                                                               
all  wolves. She  said there  is  a vast  difference between  the                                                               
eradication of wolves and merely reducing the numbers.                                                                          
TAPE 03-36, SIDE B                                                                                                            
[Part of Mr. Joslin's response was  lost due to the tape change.]                                                               
MR. JOSLIN responded  that more than one question  was asked. One                                                               
addressed the McGrath  area, and asked about removing  all of the                                                               
wolves  and  as many  bears  as  possible. Another  question  was                                                               
broader  and asked  how  people felt  about  predator control  in                                                               
general. Negative  responses to both  of those questions  were in                                                               
the high 70th percentile.                                                                                                       
MS.  DOROTHY  KEELER,  representing  herself,  told  members  the                                                               
threat  that an  aerial predator  control program  will create  a                                                               
tourism boycott is  being taken seriously. The new  version of SB                                                               
155 is a  vain attempt to hide who would  be responsible for such                                                               
a  boycott. If  this bill  passes, Governor  Murkowski will  have                                                               
created a state-sanctioned predator  control program for which he                                                               
can't be  blamed directly. If  this bill passes,  the legislature                                                               
has  removed  ADF&G's  final decision-making  capacity.  The  six                                                               
Alaska  Outdoor Council  members,  now sitting  on  the Board  of                                                               
Game, who  were not elected by  the people and answer  to no one,                                                               
may have the power to bring  the State of Alaska to its financial                                                               
knees with  a tourism  boycott. The  Board of  Game has  a vested                                                               
interest in prolonging that  boycott. Initiating predator control                                                               
to  meet  harvest  objectives  set   by  the  Board  of  Game  is                                                               
initiating   a  never-ending   predator   control  program.   The                                                               
objectives  were  set  using  historically  high  harvest  levels                                                               
established  after   years  of   poisoning  and   aerial  hunting                                                               
predators.  If SB  155 passes,  the legislature  has, "asked  the                                                               
bullies of the  playground to bankrupt the parents of  all of the                                                               
other kids  that want to use  it." This assumes the  bullies have                                                               
the legal authority to do so.                                                                                                   
MS. KEELER  said the goal  of the  extremist [hunters] is  to use                                                               
the Governor, and  now the legislature, to drive  out those pesty                                                               
non-consumptive  users  who dare  try  to  share  in the  use  of                                                               
Alaska's  wildlife resources.  She  cautioned that  if this  bill                                                               
passes,  a tourism  boycott, more  referenda and  initiatives are                                                               
certain, as  well as lawsuits.  She stated, "Pass this  bill, and                                                               
you deserve  the shame  of knowing  you trashed  Alaska's tourism                                                               
industry to  benefit a handful  of extremist hunters  whose dream                                                               
is to monopolize  the use of Alaska's wildlife and  return to the                                                               
good old days of massive statewide predator control."                                                                           
MS.  KEELER  then  read  the following  testimony  from  Mr.  Leo                                                               
Keeler, who was  unable to attend. She informed  members that Mr.                                                               
Keeler  was a  member of  the Unit  19D East  adaptive management                                                               
team and was intimately involved in this issue.                                                                                 
     The 19 East McGrath  adaptive management team, of which                                                                    
     I  was a  member,  developed a  draft predator  control                                                                    
     plan.  Before  it   was  finished,  scientific  reports                                                                    
     showed the  moose population was growing  but the bull-                                                                    
     cow  ratio  in  popular  hunting  areas  was  the  true                                                                    
     problem.  Because of  the [indisc.]  science, the  team                                                                    
     never sent  a team-approved plan to  the governor. Mike                                                                    
     Fleagle, now  Board of  Game chairman,  as a  member of                                                                    
     the McGrath  team, agreed with the  subsistence science                                                                    
     that  justified using  the moose  population objectives                                                                    
     from  6,000 to  3,000 to  3,500 moose.  Now that  it is                                                                    
     known that  hunters keep the  bull-cow ratio to  as low                                                                    
     as 6  bulls per 100  cows, he wants to  reestablish the                                                                    
     old 6,000 objective.  This old 6,000 figure  is a guess                                                                    
     made  from [indisc.]  during  extreme predator  control                                                                    
     days,  not  from  science.  Some  legislators  hope  to                                                                    
     return to  those extreme predator control  days and are                                                                    
     introducing  legislation to  benefit a  single wildlife                                                                    
     interest group - hunters.                                                                                                  
     SB 155 will authorize the  Board of Game to continue to                                                                    
     ignore public  concerns with  predator control  as they                                                                    
     have done  for years.  If passed, the  legislature will                                                                    
     again be  ignoring their responsibility to  protect all                                                                    
     citizens'  interest  in  Alaska's resources  just  like                                                                    
     they   are   ignoring   Alaskans'  interests   in   the                                                                    
     subsistence  issue.   If  passed,   it  will   lead  to                                                                    
     lawsuits, initiatives,  and ultimately the  collapse of                                                                    
     the  Board  of  Game system.  Hopefully,  the  wildlife                                                                    
     board  that  will  replace  the   Board  of  Game  will                                                                    
     represent all  citizens and all  users. I hope  it will                                                                    
     remove the  legislature from  the decision  process and                                                                    
     place  control of  Alaska's wildlife  resources in  the                                                                    
     hands of  all citizens, not just  extremist hunters. If                                                                    
     an initiative is needed to  get a wildlife board, let's                                                                    
     start one now.                                                                                                             
MS. KEELER said obviously Mr. Keeler is opposed to SB 155.                                                                      
MR.  ROBERT  FITHIAN,  Alaska Professional  Hunters'  Association                                                               
(APHA)  executive director,  informed members  he is  an eco-tour                                                               
operator and  master guide. APHA  strongly supports SB  155. APHA                                                               
represents Alaska's oldest tourism  related industry, an industry                                                               
that contributes  in excess of  $120 million to  Alaska's economy                                                               
every year.  During the past  10 years, the  non-resident hunters                                                               
to Alaska  have lost over  50 million  acres of opportunity  as a                                                               
direct  result of  the  state subsistence  law  and low  ungulate                                                               
populations, despite the  fact that they contribute  a minimum of                                                               
75  percent  of  ADF&G's  wildlife conservation  budget.  In  his                                                               
travels throughout rural  Alaska, he has found user  groups to be                                                               
extremely  distressed  with  current  management  policies.  Many                                                               
moose  populations have  lost 55  percent and  the calf  survival                                                               
rate has  dropped to lower  than 7 percent  in many parts  of the                                                               
state.  Only  3.5  percent  of surviving  moose  are  female.  He                                                               
provided  the   following  statistics  on  the   statewide  moose                                                               
   · 86 percent are being harvested by predators                                                                                
   · 10 percent are dying by natural mortality of old age,                                                                      
     starvation or disease                                                                                                      
   · 4 percent are being harvested by humans                                                                                    
He pointed out  these two equations tell us if  all hunting stops                                                               
today, next year  there will still be fewer  moose. Article VIII,                                                               
Sec. 3 of the Alaska  Constitution states that wherever occurring                                                               
in their  natural state, fish,  wildlife and waters  are reserved                                                               
to the people  for common use. Sec. 4 of  Art. VIII mandates that                                                               
fish, forests,  wildlife, grasslands and all  other replenishable                                                               
resources  belonging to  the state  shall be  utilized, developed                                                               
and  maintained  on  the sustained  yield  principle  subject  to                                                               
preferences among beneficial users.                                                                                             
MR.  FITHIAN  said  Alaska's wolf  populations  have  never  been                                                               
threatened or endangered. He asked members to pass SB 155.                                                                      
MR. WAYNE KUBAT, representing himself,  commented that a previous                                                               
speaker  testified against  predator management  because accurate                                                               
surveys haven't  been done. He said  surveys have been used  as a                                                               
tool for years  and are extremely expensive. He said  there are a                                                               
lot fewer moose because predators are  taking 85 to 90 percent of                                                               
them. He stated support for SB 155.                                                                                             
MR.  JESSIE  VANDERZANDEN,  executive   director  of  the  Alaska                                                               
Outdoor  Council (AOC),  said that  SB 155  is one  of AOC's  top                                                               
priorities. He  maintained this bill  is not about fair  chase or                                                               
ethics;  it is  not about  providing trophy  hunters with  bigger                                                               
moose  racks; it  is  not about  eliminating  wolves or  allowing                                                               
every SuperCub to shoot wolves.  Most important, this bill is not                                                               
anti-predator.  These myths  are being  created by  animal rights                                                               
groups who  put wolves  on a  pedestal and,  by doing  so, create                                                               
public  sympathy  for  them  at the  expense  of  other  wildlife                                                               
species.  This undermines  the integrity  of scientific  wildlife                                                               
management and every Alaskan who  wishes to utilize wild food for                                                               
sustenance. These myths should be refuted.                                                                                      
MR.  VANDERZANDEN said  SB  155 is  about  asserting the  state's                                                               
right to manage  wildlife in a scientific manner  for the benefit                                                               
of its  citizenry. SB  155 is  about helping  the state  meet its                                                               
statutory and  constitutional obligations to manage  wildlife for                                                               
sustained yield. It is about  putting wildlife management back in                                                               
the  hands  of  professional  managers   who  know  it  best.  He                                                               
indicated this bill  is narrow in focus. It  would limit airborne                                                               
or same  day airborne  predation management  to only  those areas                                                               
where big game populations are  depressed and where predation has                                                               
conclusively  been determined  to be  a factor  in that  decline.                                                               
This management  tool can only be  activated on 10 to  20 percent                                                               
of  Alaska's   lands  once  federal  lands,   closed  areas,  and                                                               
topography  are  accounted for.  Airborne  or  same day  airborne                                                               
predation  management is  not a  widespread practice,  but it  is                                                               
available  in  almost every  other  state  in the  nation.  Given                                                               
Alaska's challenging topography, it  should be available here. He                                                               
said   tying  predation   management   to  improving   population                                                               
objectives  to determine  how many  moose and  predators can  co-                                                               
exist in  a long term sustainable  manner in a certain  area will                                                               
allow predators to be part of  the management equation. It is not                                                               
a  question  of how  wolves  are  managed,  but how  wildlife  is                                                               
MR.  LYNN  LEVENGOOD,  executive   board  member  of  the  Alaska                                                               
Wildlife Conservation Association (AWCA),  stated support for the                                                               
committee  substitute for  SB  155 and  urged  its passage.  AWCA                                                               
believes this  bill will provide one  tool for the Board  of Game                                                               
to use to  restore an abundance of wildlife in  Alaska to benefit                                                               
all Alaskans  and user groups. ADF&G  data shows a decline  of up                                                               
to 75  percent of  the sustainable population  base of  moose and                                                               
caribou in  some game management  units. In the last  decade, the                                                               
Board of Game  has traded intensive management areas  and has not                                                               
implemented  predation control  programs. This  year, the  acting                                                               
commissioner  has  refused  to  certify  to  the  Board  of  Game                                                               
precisely  what ADF&G  biologists  testified to  the board.  Most                                                               
recently, ADF&G  has done  nothing while  it watched  and counted                                                               
the sustained  base of ungulate  populations decline by up  to 75                                                               
percent.  ADF&G  is  currently  at risk  of  being  perceived  as                                                               
rendering itself  irrelevant by advocating  its responsibilities.                                                               
SB  155 allows  the Board  of Game  one tool  to help  restore an                                                               
abundance of wildlife  in concert with ADF&G  scientific data. He                                                               
urged members to pass CSSB 155(RES).                                                                                            
MR. TOM SCARBOROUGH, representing  himself, stated support for SB                                                               
155.   He said that  although Governor Murkowski keeps  saying he                                                               
wants to  develop Alaska's resources, he  doesn't understand that                                                               
wildlife is  renewable and worth  billions of dollars.  The moose                                                               
population has  declined up to 75  percent in some places  and up                                                               
to 50 percent in others. That  equates to hundreds of millions of                                                               
dollars' worth of wildlife both  for the tourism industry and for                                                               
use as food for Alaskans. SB  155 will provide tools to allow the                                                               
Board of Game to manage this renewable resource.                                                                                
MR.   MATT  ROBUS,   Director  of   the   Division  of   Wildlife                                                               
Conservation,  ADF&G,   told  members  that  ADF&G   has  several                                                               
concerns with Version V. He  explained that AS 16.05.783 pertains                                                               
to  same  day  airborne  hunting.  The  first  sentence  of  that                                                               
statute, and of  the bill as it remains, prohibits  the taking of                                                               
certain  species through  same day  airborne hunting  or airborne                                                               
hunting. However, the  rest of the bill deals  with various forms                                                               
of  predation control  programs  using two  pathways. The  second                                                               
pathway that this  bill does not deal with allows  ADF&G staff to                                                               
use  aerial  methods  to  take   predators  as  part  of  a  game                                                               
management program.  SB 155 deals  with the first pathway and the                                                               
current statute deals with the  first pathway, which evolved from                                                               
the original initiative language.  According to the Department of                                                               
Law,  [the first  pathway] allows  the public  to participate  in                                                               
airborne or  same day airborne  predator control  activities, but                                                               
not hunting. That is what is being discussed here.                                                                              
MR.  ROBUS  said, regarding  Version  V,  ADF&G appreciates  that                                                               
wolverine have  been retained as  a species prohibited  from same                                                               
day  airborne  hunting  because  of  the  vulnerability  of  that                                                               
species  to those  methods. The  remainder of  Section 2  has the                                                               
effect  of taking  the  commissioner  of ADF&G  out  of a  fairly                                                               
complicated process  in existing statute.  The Board of  Game can                                                               
authorize a  predation control program  including these  types of                                                               
methods,  but it  must  be  run through  the  commissioner for  a                                                               
finding based  on three criteria.  This process would  remove the                                                               
commissioner from that process. It  will allow the Board of Game,                                                               
after considering wildlife  management objectives established for                                                               
the area  and using two  of the  three criteria available  to the                                                               
commissioner  in his  finding process,  to authorize  a predation                                                               
control program  that could allow  the public to use  airborne or                                                               
same day airborne  methods to take predators. He  said while this                                                               
changes the  commissioner's role  in the  whole process,  it does                                                               
not  change   ADF&G's  authority  to  either   implement  or  not                                                               
implement a predation control program.                                                                                          
MR. ROBUS  told members that ADF&G's  next concern is on  page 2,                                                               
line  16.  The  language  deleted  is  the  third  criterion  the                                                               
commissioner is held  to that would not be required  of the board                                                               
when  authorizing a  predation control  program. The  board would                                                               
have  to find  that predation  is preventing  the achievement  of                                                               
management  objectives  for  an   ungulate  population  and  that                                                               
reduction of  that predation  is likely  to recover  the ungulate                                                               
population. The third criterion  the commissioner must find, that                                                               
is not  included in the bill,  is that same day  airborne methods                                                               
are required or necessary to make the reduction in predation.                                                                   
MR. ROBUS  said his  next point  about the bill  is in  regard to                                                               
Section 2,  which would  be a  new section  of statute.  It lists                                                               
what  the board  must  do when  authorizing  a predation  control                                                               
program:  establish  predator  reduction objectives  and  limits;                                                               
determine the  methods and means  to be employed in  the program;                                                               
and  determine   who  is  authorized   to  participate   and  the                                                               
conditions under which  they can participate. This is  an area of                                                               
concern  because ADF&G  understands  from the  Department of  Law                                                               
that the  board has the  authority to do  all of these  things at                                                               
its option. ADF&G  is concerned that if the board  is mandated to                                                               
do all  of those things  every time  a program is  authorized, it                                                               
could  lead to  a very  narrowly  defined program  that would  be                                                               
unacceptable  to the  executive branch.  ADF&G would  prefer more                                                               
flexibility and asked the committee  to reconsider using the word                                                               
"shall" on line 22.                                                                                                             
MR.  ROBUS  concluded by  telling  members  the Federal  Airborne                                                               
Hunting Act  bears on  this whole  situation and  affects ADF&G's                                                               
role in  any predation control  programs put forth by  the state.                                                               
That act prohibits  anyone from taking an animal from  the air or                                                               
with the  use of an  aircraft in  any way that  harasses animals.                                                               
Several  exceptions  are  contained  in the  Act.  One  exception                                                               
pertains  to this  legislation  as  it exempts  a  person with  a                                                               
state-issued permit  that certifies that person  is participating                                                               
in  a program  to  protect wildlife  and  is following  reporting                                                               
procedures. Therefore,  the airborne hunting act  will keep ADF&G                                                               
involved to prevent the risk of  violating the federal act if the                                                               
public is allowed to participate.                                                                                               
SENATOR  SEEKINS asked  Mr. Robus  if he  anticipates that  ADF&G                                                               
will not cooperate  to ensure that the provisions  of the federal                                                               
act  are  met  if  this  legislation is  enacted  and  the  board                                                               
implements an airborne predator control.                                                                                        
MR. ROBUS said it is likely ADF&G would issue those permits.                                                                    
SENATOR SEEKINS  asked if,  in so  doing, ADF&G  would coordinate                                                               
with  its legal  experts to  make sure  the participants  are not                                                               
violating any federal law.                                                                                                      
MR. ROBUS said it would.                                                                                                        
SENATOR SEEKINS  said his  intent, regarding  the words  added on                                                               
line 20,  page 2, was  to retain a  certain amount of  control on                                                               
the Board  of Game  by requiring  it to  determine the  number of                                                               
predators to be  eradicated, to clearly define  methods and means                                                               
to  be employed,  and  to  specify who  can  participate and  the                                                               
conditions.  He  said  he  knows   that  is  within  the  board's                                                               
prerogative now.  He did  not intend  to reestablish  the board's                                                               
prerogatives, but rather to say  that when the board implements a                                                               
predator  control program,  it  shall be  careful  to define  the                                                               
terms and conditions of the program. He explained:                                                                              
     ...I  wanted the  board to  be responsible  stewards of                                                                    
     the resource and not say, well,  if you can go find 900                                                                    
     wolves  somewhere, go  kill those  900 wolves  and they                                                                    
     only  needed to  have 200  of them  taken out  of there                                                                    
     based on  the testimony  that came from  the department                                                                    
     to  meet those  kinds  of objectives.  I  think it  was                                                                    
     meant  -  rather  than  to   try  to  constrain  or  to                                                                    
     intervene   in  the   department's   authority  -   the                                                                    
     department's  part  of the  equation,  but  to kind  of                                                                    
     remind the  Board of Game  that when they  authorized a                                                                    
     predator  control  program  they   had  to  exercise  a                                                                    
     certain amount of responsibility. That was my intent.                                                                      
MR. ROBUS said  he had his documents scrambled and  can see those                                                               
words were added to Section 2.                                                                                                  
SENATOR  ELTON asked  what the  administration's  position is  on                                                               
constraining the commissioner's ability  to make written findings                                                               
to  determine that  airborne  or same  day  airborne shooting  is                                                               
MR. ROBUS  said it is important  to remember that it  removes the                                                               
commissioner from  a Board of  Game process. Currently,  when the                                                               
Board  of Game  is going  through the  process of  implementing a                                                               
predator control program,  there is a loop where  it goes through                                                               
the commissioner.  The administration's  position is that  in the                                                               
final analysis, the commissioner  and administration's ability to                                                               
conduct or not conduct the program  that is handed to ADF&G still                                                               
remains in the  executive branch. That authority  is not affected                                                               
by taking the commissioner out of the board process.                                                                            
SENATOR ELTON  asked if  Mr. Robus is  saying that  removing that                                                               
language will not constrain ADF&G at all.                                                                                       
MR. ROBUS said that is  correct. It will significantly streamline                                                               
a fairly complicated process but the result will be the same.                                                                   
SENATOR  SEEKINS remarked  that first  of  all, the  need for  an                                                               
intensive management program must  be established that entails an                                                               
extensive  process requiring  cooperation  between  the Board  of                                                               
Game and  ADF&G. ADF&G must present  a lot of scientific  data to                                                               
the  board before  any determination  is  made. This  legislation                                                               
will only  apply to  a population  that has met  the terms  of an                                                               
intensive  management   program  and  that  conclusion   will  be                                                               
determined  through input  from ADF&G.  It is  not his  intent to                                                               
allow the  board to  go around ADF&G.  This bill  only eliminates                                                               
the  commissioner's second  bite  at the  apple  to certify  what                                                               
ADF&G technical staff has already told the board.                                                                               
5:00 p.m.                                                                                                                     
MS.  DONNY  FLEAGLE,  representing  MT&T  Limited,  a  for-profit                                                               
village corporation consolidated in  1976, told members that MT&T                                                               
has five communities  in the McGrath region.  It has participated                                                               
in the  Board of Game process  for almost 10 years  in an attempt                                                               
to  get  some relief.  It  has  seen intensive  management  plans                                                               
adopted  and  extended and  emergency  petitions  heard, but  all                                                               
action stopped  at the commissioner level.  Therefore, regardless                                                               
of the  scientific data or  broad public  support, implementation                                                               
of  any  intensive management  plan  gets  narrowed down  to  the                                                               
philosophy of  the governor's office. She  said McGrath residents                                                               
have taken steps to try  to sustain the crippled moose population                                                               
and will  continue to  do so.  However, SB  155 provides  a small                                                               
glimmer of hope that the McGrath  area might get some relief. She                                                               
stated support  for giving the  board the authority  to implement                                                               
an airborne predator control program.                                                                                           
MS. RUTHANN WARDEN, representing  the Ahtna Corporation, read the                                                               
following  letter  submitted  to   committee  members  by  Gloria                                                               
     The  Ahtna  people  support land  and  shoot  same  day                                                                    
     airborne hunting  in Unit 11  and Unit 13.  The caribou                                                                    
     herds in Unit  11 and Unit 13 are at  a low population.                                                                    
     The wolves and bears prey  upon the calves in these two                                                                    
     units.  The   ungulate  population  will   continue  to                                                                    
     decline  if nothing  is done  to protect  their calves.                                                                    
     Brown  bears and  black bears  should be  added to  the                                                                    
     list of  predators for Unit  11 and Unit 13.  The black                                                                    
     and  brown  bears  are numerous  and  are  killing  the                                                                    
     calves of caribou and moose.   Unit 13 is a popular and                                                                    
     impacted place  during the hunting seasons  for caribou                                                                    
     and  moose.  This  will help  to  reduce  the  ungulate                                                                    
     population  even more  so. Please  read  and take  into                                                                    
     consideration,  when you  vote on  this, my  statement.                                                                    
     The Copper Basin is and  will become more impacted. The                                                                    
     moose  and caribou  calves need  to  be protected  from                                                                    
     predators in Unit 11 and Unit 13.                                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON asked Mr. Robus why  fox and lynx are being removed                                                               
from lines 4 and 5 but wolverine remain.                                                                                        
SENATOR SEEKINS  informed members that  fox and lynx were  in the                                                               
original statute but will be  removed because biologists were not                                                               
concerned  that  anyone would  get  a  concerted airborne  effort                                                               
against foxes  and lynx;  it is  next to  impossible to  land and                                                               
shoot them  as they  are too  fast. He said  their removal  was a                                                               
matter of streamlining the statute.  ADF&G did ask that wolverine                                                               
remain in  the statute  because a wolverine  is a  slower animal.                                                               
The  wolverine  population  could  be  impacted  by  concentrated                                                               
airborne efforts.                                                                                                               
MR. RON SOMERVILLE, newly appointed  member of the Board of Game,                                                               
stated strong support of SB 155.  He indicated the major focus of                                                               
the  discussion about  SB  155 has  been Unit  19D  East. SB  155                                                               
attempts to establish a mechanism  in statute that recognizes the                                                               
roles of  the various boards, departments  and governor's office.                                                               
It  uses a  scientifically defensible  process that  the National                                                               
Academy  of  Sciences would  say  can  occur when  predators  are                                                               
keeping an ungulate  population way below its  desirable level to                                                               
meet  the  needs  of  the   local  residents  as  well  as  other                                                               
residents,  if at  all  possible. He  said Unit  19D  East is  an                                                               
example of  a whole  system going  array. Three  different boards                                                               
have identified a biological emergency in that area.                                                                            
TAPE 03-37, SIDE A                                                                                                            
MR. SOMERVILLE  said the board,  at its last meeting,  again made                                                               
an exhaustive  review of the  scientific information and  heard a                                                               
lot of  public testimony about  how something needed to  be done.                                                               
Had SB  155 been in  effect, the  board could have  initiated, in                                                               
this  selective  area, some  aerial  hunting  or land  and  shoot                                                               
options  that the  Governor  said were  available.  As it  stands                                                               
right  now, residents  are very  discouraged  that anything  will                                                               
ever  be done.  He said  in a  practical sense,  this legislation                                                               
does  not really  deviate in  any  substantive way  from the  two                                                               
initiatives that  passed. It retains very  stringent requirements                                                               
on the board and the  department. It retains many hoops requiring                                                               
scientific  justification.  It  says   in  areas  with  extremely                                                               
suppressed  ungulate populations,  where the  needs of  the local                                                               
people  have  been  demonstrated  and are  extreme,  some  action                                                               
should be taken to alleviate that  condition. He said this is not                                                               
a massive  hunting effort. SB 155  will go a long  way to provide                                                               
another tool  for the board  to use without sacrificing  the good                                                               
nature and survival  of wolves in Alaska. He pointed  out he is a                                                               
biologist himself and believes  wolves are economically important                                                               
to a lot of rural Alaskans and to the tourism industry.                                                                         
SENATOR LINCOLN asked Mr. Somerville  if he was testifying on his                                                               
own behalf.                                                                                                                     
MR. SOMERVILLE said he is representing the Board of Game.                                                                       
SENATOR  LINCOLN  asked why  Mr.  Somerville  is puzzled  by  the                                                               
Governor's rejection of the approach  he first came on board with                                                               
regarding  land  and  shoot.  She  asked if  the  Board  of  Game                                                               
discussed that issue with the  administration and was involved in                                                               
making that decision.                                                                                                           
MR. SOMERVILLE  said Mike Fleagle,  the board chair,  did discuss                                                               
the  predator  control  issue  with  the  Governor's  Office.  He                                                               
indicated the Governor's Office said  the board could not require                                                               
state personnel to  take wolves with helicopters.  When the board                                                               
did its findings and recommendations,  it felt the most effective                                                               
method should  be used for  a variety of reasons:  efficiency and                                                               
cost. With  that in mind, the  board was prepared to  approve the                                                               
option of  using local  residents. However,  the board  bumped up                                                               
against the narrow  interpretation of the existing  law that says                                                               
the objectives in place prohibit the board from doing that.                                                                     
SENATOR LINCOLN  asked Mr.  Somerville if SB  155 will  allow the                                                               
board to implement such a program.                                                                                              
MR.  SOMERVILLE  said  SB  155  will  allow  the  board  and  the                                                               
department to implement  exactly what the Governor  said he would                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN asked if SB  155 passes, the Governor could still                                                               
stop the program or  whether it will take it out  of the hands of                                                               
the Governor.                                                                                                                   
MR. SOMERVILLE said  the Governor holds the purse  strings of any                                                               
program.  SB 155  removes the  conflict between  the commissioner                                                               
and  the board  regarding  the commissioner's  findings. He  said                                                               
something this important will not be  done with the board and the                                                               
Governor  or the  board and  the legislature  at loggerheads.  He                                                               
said the board would have preferred  the use of helicopters for a                                                               
variety  of reasons  but  the Governor  wanted  to use  aircraft,                                                               
trapping, and  local residents as  much as possible. SB  155 will                                                               
allow the board to do that.                                                                                                     
SENATOR LINCOLN commented:                                                                                                      
     In talking  with the Governor,  perhaps - I  could have                                                                    
     misunderstood  him because  by use  of local  residents                                                                    
     for  trapping -  we're  beyond that  this year....  I'm                                                                    
     from  a village.  I live  in a  village. I've  been out                                                                    
     there for  the hunting.  I don't  see how  the Governor                                                                    
     can say use local people  to control the wolves because                                                                    
     that  is impossible  in some  of the  areas where  they                                                                    
     have  expanded so  greatly and  they are  a very  smart                                                                    
     animal. So, I don't see how  we can use traps to assist                                                                    
     on  predator   control  and  that's  why   I've  always                                                                    
     supported  aircraft to  do that  because I  feel that's                                                                    
     the safest,  most humane way of  reducing the predators                                                                    
     -  or  the wolves  in  the  area that  we're  primarily                                                                    
     talking  about  -  the  McGrath area.  So  I  may  have                                                                    
     misunderstood his intent there.                                                                                            
MR. SOMERVILLE said he personally  agrees that trapping is not an                                                               
adequate means  of dealing with  the number of animals  that need                                                               
to be  removed. Most  staff say a  good predator  control program                                                               
will  require 75  to  80  percent be  removed.  However, in  some                                                               
areas, trappers  have been able  to take a significant  number of                                                               
animals,  which is  an inexpensive  way  to go  if the  remaining                                                               
animals  can  be taken  by  aircraft.  It's a  win-win  situation                                                               
because locals get to sell the [pelts] or use them.                                                                             
MR. JOEL  BENNETT, testifying on  his own behalf,  told committee                                                               
members he coordinated  and organized the initiative  in 1996 and                                                               
the referendum in  2000. He asked to respond  to Mr. Somerville's                                                               
statement that  SB 155 does not  do any violence to  those public                                                               
votes. He said one  way it does is that both  public votes had to                                                               
do with whether or not the  public should be involved in predator                                                               
control efforts. Clearly, both measures  excluded the public, and                                                               
any  agents  in  the  case  of the  second  vote.  He  said  that                                                               
fundamentally,   he   believes   people   still   support   using                                                               
professional  ADF&G  personnel  only when  necessary  to  conduct                                                               
predator control.  History has demonstrated that  when the public                                                               
does  get involved,  there is  a marked  lack of  accountability,                                                               
increased wounding,  and inefficiency in general  in the program.                                                               
Some local  people have  participated in the  past and  have been                                                               
effective, but by  and large, the most  effective aerial shooters                                                               
have  been  from  urban  areas  and there  have  been  some  real                                                               
problems associated with  that.  That's why  both public measures                                                               
clearly sought to exclude the  public from this business. He said                                                               
he believes  the public  would vote  the same  way again  on that                                                               
SENATOR LINCOLN  said she  hopes Mr.  Bennett can  understand her                                                               
viewpoint. The people  in her villages do not have  meat on their                                                               
table  because wolves,  in particular,  have been  taking a  huge                                                               
number of moose.                                                                                                                
MR.  BENNETT  said  his  position  has  clearly  been  that  when                                                               
necessary,  predator control  should be  done using  professional                                                               
means and  in the  most efficient way,  by helicopter.  He cannot                                                               
answer why that is not happening in this case.                                                                                  
There being  no further testimony,  SENATOR DYSON moved  CSSB 155                                                               
(RES), Version  V, from committee  with its attached  fiscal note                                                               
and individual recommendations.                                                                                                 
SENATOR ELTON objected.                                                                                                         
The  motion  carried  with Senators  Seekins,  Lincoln,  Stevens,                                                               
Wagoner, and Dyson in favor and Senator Elton opposed.                                                                          

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