Legislature(1995 - 1996)
01/31/1996 08:06 AM RES
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE January 31, 1996 8:06 a.m. MEMBERS PRESENT Representative William K. "Bill" Williams, Co-Chairman Representative Joe Green, Co-Chairman Representative Scott Ogan, Vice Chairman Representative Alan Austerman Representative Ramona Barnes Representative John Davies Representative Pete Kott Representative Don Long Representative Irene Nicholia MEMBERS ABSENT All members present COMMITTEE CALENDAR SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE FOR HOUSE BILL NO. 397 "An Act relating to the fisheries resource landing tax and to the seafood marketing assessment; and providing for an effective date." - PASSED SSHB 397 OUT OF COMMITTEE CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 81(FIN) "An Act amending the Fish and Game Code by removing 'wolf' from the definition of 'big game'; relating to the classification and taking of wolves; and providing for a harvest incentive on wolves taken in areas designated by the Board of Game." - PASSED CSSB 81(FIN) OUT OF COMMITTEE *HOUSE BILL NO. 447 "An Act providing that state land, water, and land and water may not be classified so as to preclude or restrict traditional means of access for traditional recreational uses." - HEARD AND HELD (* First Public Hearing) PREVIOUS ACTION BILL: HB 397 SHORT TITLE: FISH LANDING TAX/SEAFOOD MARKETING ASSMT. SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) AUSTERMAN JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/08/96 2370 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/08/96 2371 (H) FSH, RESOURCES, FINANCE 01/17/96 2463 (H) SPONSOR SUBSTITUTE INTRODUCED-REFERRALS 01/17/96 2463 (H) FSH, RESOURCES, FINANCE 01/17/96 (H) FSH AT 05:00 PM CAPITOL 124 01/17/96 (H) MINUTE(FSH) 01/19/96 2482 (H) FSH RPT 3DP 1NR 01/19/96 2482 (H) DP: ELTON, MOSES, AUSTERMAN 01/19/96 2482 (H) NR: G.DAVIS 01/19/96 2483 (H) FISCAL NOTE (DCED) 01/19/96 2483 (H) ZERO FISCAL NOTE (REV) 01/19/96 2483 (H) REFERRED TO RESOURCES 01/31/96 (H) RES AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 124 BILL: SB 81 SHORT TITLE: CLASSIFYING WOLF AS PREDATOR SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) SHARP, Taylor, Miller JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 02/09/95 222 (S) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 02/09/95 222 (S) RESOURCES 02/20/95 (S) RES AT 03:30 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205 02/20/95 (S) MINUTE(RES) 03/22/95 (S) RES AT 03:15 PM CAPITOL ROOM 408 03/27/95 (S) RES AT 03:30 PM BUTROVICH ROOM 205 03/27/95 (S) MINUTE(RES) 03/28/95 808 (S) RES RPT CS 5DP 1NR NEW TITLE 03/28/95 808 (S) FN TO SB & CS (F&G) 03/28/95 808 (S) FIN REFERRAL ADDED 04/24/95 (S) FIN AT 11:00 AM SENATE FINANCE 532 04/25/95 (S) MINUTE(FIN) 04/26/95 1248 (S) FIN RPT CS 3DP 3NR NEW TITLE 04/27/95 1269 (S) FN TO FIN CS (F&G) 04/27/95 (S) RLS AT 01:00 PM FAHRENKAMP ROOM 203 04/27/95 (S) MINUTE(RLS) 04/29/95 1337 (S) RULES TO CALENDAR 4/29/95 04/29/95 1340 (S) READ THE SECOND TIME 04/29/95 1340 (S) FIN CS ADOPTED UNAN CONSENT 04/29/95 1341 (S) ADVANCE TO 3RD READING FLD Y12 N6 E2 04/29/95 1341 (S) THIRD READING 4/30 CALENDAR 04/30/95 1366 (S) READ THE THIRD TIME CSSB 81(FIN) 04/30/95 1367 (S) PASSED Y13 N5 E2 04/30/95 1367 (S) ADAMS NOTICE OF RECONSIDERATION 05/01/95 1396 (S) RECON TAKEN UP - IN THIRD READING 05/01/95 1396 (S) PASSED ON RECONSIDERATION Y12 N7 E1 05/01/95 1398 (S) TRANSMITTED TO (H) 05/02/95 1728 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 05/02/95 1728 (H) RESOURCES, FINANCE 01/31/96 (H) RES AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 124 BILL: HB 447 SHORT TITLE: CAN'T CLOSE LAND TO TRADITIONAL REC. USES SPONSOR(S): REPRESENTATIVE(S) MASEK, Williams JRN-DATE JRN-PG ACTION 01/24/96 2524 (H) READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRAL(S) 01/24/96 2524 (H) RESOURCES 01/26/96 2548 (H) COSPONSOR(S): WILLIAMS 01/31/96 (H) RES AT 08:00 AM CAPITOL 124 WITNESS REGISTER BOB BARTHOLOMEW, Deputy Director Division of Income and Excise Audit Department of Revenue P. O. Box 110420 Juneau, AK 99801-0420 Telephone: (907) 465-2320 POSITION STATEMENT: The Department of Revenue supports HB 397. DICK BISHOP, Executive Director Alaska Outdoor Council 1555 Gus's Grind Fairbanks, AK 99709 Telephone: (907) 455-6151 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 81 and HB 447. SANDRA ARNOLD P.O. Box 202022 Anchorage, AK 99520 Telephone: 455-8120 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against SB 81. BO FORREST, Volunteer Alaska Environmental Lobby P. O. Box 2215 Juneau, AK 99801 Telephone: (907) 463-3366 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified against SB 81. WAYNE REGELIN, Director Division of Wildlife Conservation Department of Fish & Game P. O. Box 25526 Juneau, AK 99802-6626 Telephone: (907) 465-6196 POSITION STATEMENT: The Administration is opposed to SB 81. BILL HAGAR 431 Gaffney Road Fairbanks, AK 99701 Telephone: (907) 452-6295 POSITION STATEMENT: Testified in support of SB 81. ACTION NARRATIVE TAPE 96-10, SIDE A Number 000 CO-CHAIRMAN BILL WILLIAMS called the House Resources Committee meeting to order at 8:06 a.m. Members present at the call to order were Representatives Williams, Green, Ogan, Austerman, Davies, Kott and Long. Representatives Barnes and Nicholia were absent. HB 397 - FISH LANDING TAX/SEAFOOD MARKETING ASSESSMENT CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS announced that the committee would hear from the sponsor, Representative Alan Austerman, and the Department of Revenue. He stated his intention to move SSHB 397 from the House Resources Committee and declared that CO-CHAIRMAN JOE GREEN would chair the remainder of the meeting. REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN said two years ago, the legislature passed the Fishery Resource Landing Tax which established a tax on offshore fisheries which landed product in Alaska. HB 397 was introduced to clean up a problem area in the tax so that it will not be challenged in court. REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN continued, the American Factory Trawlers Association filed action against the state after the landing tax was passed. He said the court remanded the case back to the state asserting that the American Factory Trawlers Association had to go through the state process of review on their tax claim before it came to the court. He said the original tax included .3 percent for the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), and HB 397 separates the ASMI .3 percent tax from the 3.0 percent Fisheries Business Tax. He asked the Department of Revenue to explain the technicalities. Number 290 BOB BARTHOLOMEW, Deputy Director, Income and Excise Tax Division, Department of Revenue said HB 397 was introduced to strengthen the Fishery Landing Tax implemented by the legislature in 1994 and, subsequently, challenged in its first year. He said the tax raised $7 million in its first full year of collections; half of which is shared with the communities where the fish are landed and the other half goes into the general fund. He said the Department of Revenue supports HB 397 to strengthen existing statute. It has a zero fiscal note. MR. BARTHOLOMEW said the bill does not change the program. HB 397 makes the Fishery Landing Tax which is essentially for the offshore fishing fleet as close as we can get it to the Fisheries Business Tax. The intent is to match the two fisheries taxes and make it so that all taxpayers are treated equally. MR. BARTHOLOMEW identified changes in the legislation. In HB 397, the 3.3 percent landing tax which includes .3 percent for ASMI is reestablished to a 3 percent landing tax with a separate .3 percent seafood marketing assessment. This separates the marketing assessment in statute and equalizes the landing tax and the shore- based fisheries business tax. A new section is added: Section 22. AS 43.77.045 Fisheries Resources Landing Tax Education Credit which adds to this tax the ability to take an education credit. Number 506 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if HB 397 addresses or circumvents the problems with the trawlers association and similar plaintiffs. MR. BARTHOLOMEW said the bill was introduced to meet the challenges brought by the association, and any weaknesses in the tax. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if this fix will take care of any other litigants. MR. BARTHOLOMEW said the bill will take care of any challenges the Department of Revenue is aware of. Number 580 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES asked explanation of the multiple changes to the language concerning the value paid being substituted by seafood products "produced." MR. BARTHOLOMEW said the Department of Revenue feels the intent is exactly the same. We are just clarifying the fact that if you do not purchase the fish, you just catch it; the Department of Revenue is going to call that "produced" and it should be subject to the seafood marketing assessment. Number 711 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS noted the presence of Senator Bert Sharp. Number 752 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT said HB 397 is a good bill and it cleans up the statutes. He moved that SSHB 397 move from the Resources Committee with individual recommendations with the attached zero fiscal note. Hearing no objections, it was so ordered. CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS turned the gavel over to C0-CHAIRMAN GREEN. SB 81 - CLASSIFYING WOLF AS PREDATOR Number 780 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said the committee would hear CSSB 81(FIN) concerning the reinstatement of the harvest incentive on wolves. He said there are a number of witnesses on the teleconference network who wish to testify. Number 832 SENATOR BERT SHARP said SB 81 had changed considerably since it was originally introduced in the Senate by accommodating many of the Department of Fish and Game's objections. He said the DF&G was still negatively neutral and he would let them address their concerns. SENATOR SHARP referred to his sponsor statement: "Why It's Time to Re-instate a Harvest Incentive on Wolves. The history of season accessibility to game by Alaskan Hunters as determined by open season lengths. He said, "particularly, in the area north of the Alaska range there is only a forty mile area where there is road and river access into the caribou ranges. There has been very restricted seasons and very restricted access primarily in Tier II that keeps many licensed hunters from participating in the caribou harvest there." SENATOR SHARP discussed a recent Division of Game study of the Forty-mile caribou herd, and said the results pointed out interesting factors which he would not address except the results that the range, over the years, had supported as high as an excess of 500,000 animals in the herd and went down as low as 15,000. He said the herd had stabilized at 22,000 over the past four years. The range is in excellent shape and the herd is highly productive, with about 8,500 calves born from 22,000 animals every year. The primary problem is, out of those 8,500 calves, less than 10 percent survive to be yearlings, and less than that into full-fledged adults. SENATOR SHARP said the study indicated that the "culprits" were five or six packs of wolves in the area at calving time. He said he would make the task force results and recommendations available to the committee which he added, "did not recommend any predator harvest." He said the recommendations included the findings that the human harvest is insignificant and has no effect on the biological growth because the herd has the highest proportion of bulls to cows of any herd in the state. He said there was no problem with taking 350 bulls, the study reduced that down to 150. Number 1092 SENATOR SHARP continued, "So, why has things like this happened and why are vast areas of the state closed or we have very limited access for the privilege of hunting, I won't call it privilege, I will call it right to harvest natural resources. SENATOR SHARP stated, "The last four governors, and now Governor Knowles, have consistently ignored the recommendations of the Department of Fish and Game calling for intensive predator control actions. These were Department actions based on bookcases full of scientific studies, game surveys resulting in results that cost tens of millions of dollars and years of public testimony. SENATOR SHARP continued, "The actions of Hickel and Knowles have twice squashed pilot wolf reduction programs which meticulously evolved out of years of planning, public input and Board actions, and it only applied to 6,500 square miles, less than 1 percent of our state lands. SENATOR SHARP said, "Previous governors as well as the current governor choose to thwart Department, Board, Public and Legislative directions for predator control programs by executive orders, removal of key personnel and shifting legislatively approved funding to other passive management areas. SENATOR SHARP said, "Two years ago, this legislature passed intensive game management mandated legislation. Number 1163 SENATOR SHARP stated, "At the December, 1994 and March 1994 Board of Game meetings, public proposal called for intensive management implementation in Game management Units 13, 19, 20A, 20C, 20D and 25C. SENATOR SHARP continued, "At the December meeting, the Department gave the following Review on Unit 13: 1. Another deep snow, tough winter this year which will make it an unprecedented four in a row. 2. Moose populations down 20-25 percent and continuing down. 3. Moose calf and `15 month yearling' populations are at extremely low levels which will cause additional deterioration of Unit 13 Moose numbers. 4. A higher than average wolf population with strong indications of a much more lower wolf harvest by trappers and hunters this season. 5. Continue record high levels of Grizzly bear population levels. SENATOR SHARP proceeded, "Based on the state statute on intensive management and this criteria, what do you think a responsible Department would recommend? Reduce wolf population, liberalize bear hunting seasons from 1 every 4 years to 1 each year. Planned control burn to improve habitat? The fact is none of the above. No resource management recommendations from the department to the board on Unit 13." Number 1217 SENATOR SHARP emphasized that the department did eliminate the Grizzly bear permit for residents and allow a Grizzly Bear harvest every year instead of every four years. He said the Board of Game had made that recommendation over the objections of the Department of Fish and Game. "The Department of Fish and Game ignored these warning signals and gave their standard signal, business as usual, proposing reduced seasons and more stringent antler size limitation. Continue managing people not the resource. SENATOR SHARP resumed his testimony, "At the next Board meeting, 3 1/2 months later, the only positive action was reluctant approval to liberalize the bear harvest in Unit 13. This was done by the Board without a recommendation from a passive Department. No active predator control was authorized. SENATOR SHARP said, "I would like to continue to work toward getting the Department focused on resource management and not people management. Budget shifts can get the job done with no increase in costs. We are trying to do this. SENATOR SHARP stated, "Some who will come forward in opposition of this bill will justify their testimony by saying we must keep politics out of the game management process. Number 1311 SENATOR SHARP proceeded, "I can only reply that we are at this point only because of blackmail politics by special interest groups who are financed primarily by outside interest. They have totally thwarted and frustrated the public process in our state. SENATOR SHARP said. "This bill is a simple statement. Alaskans demand that this resource be managed with their best interest being the paramount issue. This bill is here because of politics destroying wise game management in our state. SENATOR SHARP continued, "Many believe this bill is far from what is needed. They point to sections which still leaves the power to initiate harvest incentive at the discretion of the Board of Game. At this time, I am still hopeful the Board will use this authority in specific areas where high predator populations are a major contributing factor in destroying game resource availability to Alaskans. SENATOR SHARP concluded his sponsor statement, "This bill simply stated gives the Board of Game the authority and a tool to put the power back into the hands of the people in an arena where government has miserably failed. Careful examination of this bill reveals another feature. It's an Alaskan Hire piece of legislation." Number 1446 SENATOR SHARP said SB 81, by reclassifying the wolf from game animal to unclassified game animal, and a fur bearer, will go a long way in allowing the board to focus pressure on predators, specifically wolves, where it is a major, major problem. Number 1520 REPRESENTATIVE DON LONG asked clarification of the procedures used by the Board of Game in the designated harvest incentive areas. SENATOR SHARP answered that the Board of Game has, historically, accepted public input when local citizens say there is a problem, and they study the game management subunits. That is why the bill allows focusing by the board in areas designated by the board. SENATOR SHARP said one objection to the original bill was that it allowed incentive on wolves statewide and could jeopardize areas where the wolf populations are low, thus creating an endangered species. That is why the bill was restructured in Senate Finance Committee. So, the board focused on areas within a game unit where the scientific data showed there was a problem on game population levels and predation was significant. Number 1606 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES said the bill talks about harvest incentives, he asked if that term also means "bounty." SENATOR SHARP said, "It could be, it could also be incentives paid to recognized groups that the department may want to contract with to perform the harvesting of the predators within the bounty where these groups live, particularly in Game management Unit 19. He said six or seven villages wrote in support of the bill last year. The bill was broadened to allow the department to pay individuals, or contract with a village council, or a group that lives close to the area, to trap the area. He said harvest incentives could also mean an agreement based on the achievement of the goals of the agreement. Number 1678 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he was a little confused by that explanation. He said as he reads the bill, it just says "pay an harvest incentive of $200.00 per animal to a person." He said he did not see anything in the bill about contracting with a village council. SENATOR SHARP said the bill does not preclude a group from getting together. The key is about "per animal" and subject to working out arrangements with the department, or focusing on a group. The bill points out the controls that have been proven effective on ceiling, validating and so forth by the department. Number 1718 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said one of the objections to "bounties" in the past has been the potential for abuse in terms of harvesting outside the area that is designated by the board. He asked Senator Sharp to comment on that aspect and to explain how the state can expect to control since there is no fiscal note from the Department of Public Safety. SENATOR SHARP said most of the control will be done by the biologists in the field because they give the advice to the board on what areas should be done. He said if the department wants to call in the protection, prosecution and follow up of investigative work, they can do that. He said if there are apparent abuses, the department has adequate personnel to keep tight controls. If this happens in the first couple of projects, the department is going to be very tight on the harvest and direct the exact packs they want the pressure on. The Forty-mile people indicated that they knew what the pack activity was. Number 1810 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES asked Senator Sharp if he felt the Department of Fish and Game can put regulations in place that make it harder to take wolves from out of the designated areas and claim they were taken from "within the designated areas." SENATOR SHARP deferred to the Department of Fish and Game. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES referred to the Department of Fish and Game fiscal note assumptions "any enforcement costs will be assumed by Department of Public Safety." He said that was the reason for his earlier question and stated that he felt the department will very carefully outline the area in which they expect the harvest incentive to be focused. Representative Davies wanted further clarification on people who will collect wolves from remote areas because it happens to be convenient. How are we going to know that? SENATOR SHARP replied the same way moose is monitored in areas where they are not supposed to be harvested. The department has the parameters set up and should be able to monitor it better than monitoring other game regulations because it will be a high profile exercise. Number 1878 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES referred to Senator Sharp's sponsor statement concerning the "squashed pilot wolf reduction programs that meticulously evolved out of years of planning. He said it is true that this has been addressed for years. One of the problems with the wolf control projects that we have had is, perhaps, that they have not been meticulously planned. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES continued, one specific aspect is public relations. This an area that has attracted a public interest beyond the immediate areas involved. He said earlier versions of wolf control programs recommended the state put resources into doing the public relations before the problem developed. He asked Senator Sharp if he agreed that the state has not done enough public education to gather acceptance for intensive game management programs. Number 1930 SENATOR SHARP said it depends on who the public relations targets, Alaskans or the whole world; and we do not have the resources to educate the whole world. He said we are subject to high technology like CNN type news and anything can be news from Fairbanks, Alaska to Timbuktu. He felt that it is not the department's responsibility to get into high profile public relations to try to influence and control the attitude and the minds of the general public. He said the department should focus on the biological data that we spend millions of dollars developing and make their recommendations based on that and proceed. Number 2028 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN said he has personal experience hunting on horseback in Unit 13, and can testify that there are very few moose calves in that area. He said he supports SB 81 because it offers a better way to manage predators. C0-CHAIRMAN GREEN said he would take teleconference testimony at this time. DICK BISHOP, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council, said he agreed with comments made by Senator Sharp and Representative Ogan about management of big game prey populations in parts of the Interior and Southcentral Alaska. He said, in the past, control of wolf populations has been the only effective means of allowing the prey populations to recover. The problem is real. You are looking at only 10 to 20 percent of the state where active game management can and has the availability of prey for human uses. MR. BISHOP said the question raised by Representative Davies concerning bounties is that bounties were a general application of a financial reward or remuneration for taking a particular kind of animal. This bill does do that it, it addresses it to a specific area. One of the difficulties with game management is the disinformation distributed widely and callously by opponents of game management in the media. MR. BISHOP said he felt that the department has not adequately presented the facts relating to the predator-prey system management even though they have done an outstanding job of researching it. He felt the department has not made the effort that should be made to inform the world that sound fish and game management does not threaten wolf populations. Number 2323 SANDRA ARNOLD testified relating that she has a science degree in wildlife ecology and Masters degree in wildlife policy. She said she opposes SB 81 for multiple reasons. Ms. Arnold said she had researched bounties in professional wildlife management literature and quoted from the following: Robertson and Bollen, Wildlife Management, Stanford, University. "Putting a price on the head of an animal, at first, seems to be an effective way of reducing its numbers. However, millions of public dollars have been paid to hunters in the West with no detectable finding of diminishing predators. Bounties are also subject to fraud." Young and Goldman, The Wolves of North America. "Bounty systems are honeycombed with fraud and centuries of its use brings to light endless examples of this. It is a system that just can't work." Dr. Mark Keikoff, (Sp.) Predators and Wildlife Management, Academic Press. "Historically bounties with rare exceptions have consistently failed to achieve their goals." Gerald Eddy, Director, Minnesota Department of Conservation. "Bounties fail to control predators. We are paying bounties for animals that will be killed anyway." Ms. Arnold noted that Mr. Eddy points out the invitation to fraud. Number 2380 MS. ARNOLD said, "Missouri paid more than $2 million to kill 200,000 coyotes with no effect on the coyote population." Elmer Shaw, Analysis of Laws Relating to Wolf Bounties, Library of Congress. "Professional wildlife biologists do not consider the bounty system to be an effective method of predator control. L. David Meach, The Wolf. "The bounty system is an ineffective and inefficient method of controlling wolves and millions of dollars have been wasted through bounty payments. However, bounties can persist whether or not they are actually needed or have any effect because basically a strong political tool especially to legislators from the fringes of wild areas, such as Fairbanks, because there are relatively few spectacular issues that can project a representative from such an area into the headlines. All this is aside from whether or not the bounty is necessary or useful." Number 2449 MS. ARNOLD said Department of Fish and Game reports indicate that Alaska has abolished bounties three times in its history because it was a waste of money, it did not work and it was unpopular with the public. She said bounties do not work, yet we are considering this meritless idea once again because a small number of extremists cannot accept the fact that this is not the "good old days." CHANGE TAPE TAPE 96-10, SIDE B Number 000 MS. ARNOLD stated that the urban centers of Alaska care more and pay more attention now to its wildlife management because our constitution says that wildlife belongs equally to all of us. MS. ARNOLD concluded, bounties hold an overly simplistic view of ecosystems, they do not work. They are expensive in the time of cutting government programs and subsidies, and they are not supported by the public; and public opinion does count. Number 063 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN addressed Ms. Arnold about her views and said there are some areas where wolf control has been effective. Number 106 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN commented on Ms. Arnold's testimony saying that it is hard to believe that the taking of 200,000 coyotes had no effect on the population. He said the Alaska Constitution does not say that wildlife belongs equally to all of us; it talks about the common use clause which the framers of the constitution were likely talking about consumptive use. Number 125 REPRESENTATIVE PETE KOTT countered to Ms. Arnold that her testimony seemed to indicate that she is strongly in opposition to the bounty system, but that she did not seem to be opposed to the harvesting of wolves. Number 143 MS. ARNOLD felt there is a legitimate use of wolves, foxes and lynx. She said what she is opposed to is trying to artificially boost game numbers in areas along the road system that is being used, primarily, by the urban sporting population. The statistics show us that in Unit 13, for example, nearly 80 percent of the hunters in that unit are from the urban areas and earn more than $80,000 a year. She said is opposed to manipulating that component of all the parameters of the ecosystem which does not always work, at the great expense of eroding Alaska's public image and offers something that often times has no measurable benefit and ends up by dividing Alaska. She said we can better spend that money on better wildlife law enforcement, habitat protection or, if we want to subsidize hunters, how about flying them out to Western Alaska where we have an oversupply of caribou. Number 197 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said there seems to be a perception here that sportsmen want to eradicate wolves. He said no one wants to eradicate wolves. We either manage people or we manage wildlife. He said we can allow Mother Nature to manage these wildlife or we can control the situation and keep enough wolves to do their job and provide that balance. He feels the state should actively manage its wildlife rather than managing it by default. Number 261 BO FORREST, Alaska Environmental Lobby Volunteer, presented his testimony for the record stating: "SB 81 is a prime example of extreme politicians trying to strong- arm inappropriate legislation into law. This legislation denies economic reason. The last wolf-kill legislation the state implemented was budgeted for $100,000 dollars, but ultimately the state shelled out over $229,000 for 120 mutilated carcasses. This doesn't include legal expenditures for defending such irresponsible policy in the eyes of an outraged state, nation and planet. MR. FORREST said, "Currently, $675,000 dollars is earmarked for the proposed wolf-bounty program, a program which could realistically pay out cash for the skin and foreleg of a protected wolf, or even a wolf from another country. There is no way to control the location of the proposed killing, and the skin remains with the person receiving the bounty. Who can say with certainty what the bottom line will be? MR. FORREST continued, "Furthermore, there will be lawsuits, loss of tourism revenue, public hearings, and the loss of public confidence in our political system and Alaska's ability to manage its wildlife in a responsible and sustainable way. MR. FORREST stated, "Many legislators proclaim that the highest and best use of our wildlife is provided through human consumptive use of this wildlife. ADF&G, however, has recent economic research figures indicating that the large number of tourists that visit the state each year would pay higher amounts of cash to view Alaska's big game populations, including wolves and bears, than would the handful of recreational hunters that feel they don't have an adequate chance of killing something unless they are the sole predator on the clock that particular day. And under the Alaska State Constitution's `common use clause,' Alaska wildlife belongs to all Alaskans, not only the consumptive use bidders or the highest users. There are a multitude of wildlife interests in Alaska, and SB 81 threatens the balance of the community at the focal-point of those combined interests. MR. FORREST proceeded, "Passage of this bill will be political suicide. In the face of public censure based on existing scientific evidence and consensus, this bill represents a contemptuous response to a workable problem. If in extreme cases wolf control is needed in specific circumstances, let's make scientific decisions backed by public understanding and support. MR. FORREST stated, "The current policies allowing the killing of wolves with strangulation snares, steel-jawed traps, the use of all terrain-vehicles and snow machines combined with semi-automatic assault rifles, and the same-day land and shoot approach using air- craft already has Alaska under worldwide scrutiny. The additional bounty on wolves is unnecessary and unacceptable. MR. FORREST continued, "Many past policies are no longer acceptable. Bounties have not been successful throughout their history in this state, and there's no reason to suffer through another attempt now. Alaska's physical and biological complexities deserve responsible and realistic nurturing towards a sustainable and optimal yield, not a reductionism approach to management. MR. FORREST said, "The proposal before you is not a well-meaning attempt to exploit responsibly, but a stumbling, uncontrolled, and unnecessary lunge at a monster that does not exist beyond the boundaries of a few archaic minds. MR. FORREST testified, "This is the same type of mentality that called for and received a bounty on the American Bald Eagle, a bounty that was in effect from 1915 until as recently as 1953 in Alaska. Have we not learned our lesson yet? MR. FORREST concluded, "The cost of each dead wolf will well exceed its $200 limit. In the end, Alaska will pay with Her soul. Number 436 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN introduced Wayne Regelin from the Department of Fish and Game. Number 454 WAYNE REGELIN, Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Department of Fish and Game introduced Ken Taylor, the new Deputy Director of the Division of Wildlife Conservation. He said would address SB 81 and then he wanted to address some of the earlier testimony. MR. REGELIN said SB 81, as it has been changed, and if it were passed, would reclassify the wolf as an "unclassified" game animal rather than being a big game animal. It would provide a harvest incentive of $200 per wolf in areas designated by the Board of Game where it was necessary. It would eliminate nonresident and nonresident alien tag fees for hunting of wolves. This version of SB 81 has been changed very significantly and is much improved over the original SB 81 which was a bounty system statewide. Number 530 MR. REGELIN said the Department of Fish and Game still has some real concerns about SB 81. The Administration does not support the bill. MR. REGELIN said game in Alaska is classified by the Board of Game as either big game or small game; unclassified game is fur animal or fur bearer. A trapping license is required to take an animal under the "fur bearer" regulations and a hunting license is required to take animals classified as a big game or fur bearer animal. Some animals, like the wolf, have dual classifications so they can be trapped as well as hunted. The wolf is now classified as both a big game animal and a fur bearer. Number 556 MR. REGELIN said the Board of Game has adopted specific methods and means of restrictions for the harvest of big game for hunting, but they have not done so for unclassified game. It is legal to hunt unclassified game the same day a person has been airborne while it is not for most big game species in Alaska. So, by changing the classification of the wolf to "unclassified," it will send a message to Alaska that we consider the wolf in the same class as those species commonly considered vermin. The current unclassified species in Alaska are rats, mice and starling. There are no seasons and no bag limits, and no restrictions on the taking of unclassified game. Sending this message will provide a lot of ammunition to the animal rights groups and extremists which will further erode the department's ability to manage Alaska's wolf populations. Number 603 MR. REGELIN felt the harvest incentive program as outlined in SB 81 will be impossible to implement. He suggested instead that the Board of Game establish regulations and procedures to control, properly manage and eliminate fraud in the program. MR. REGELIN stated that the $200.00 incentive, added to the pelt value, might be incentive enough for some trappers to increase their harvest in the areas. Number 636 MR. REGELIN said even though this is called the harvest incentive program, and only would be applied to a few areas in Alaska; the press and the public are going to call it a bounty. The state of Alaska will suffer severe criticism by those who have been very effective in the past at crying wolf. MR. REGELIN said that repealing the nonresident and nonresident alien tag fee will have little impact on wolf populations because nonresidents do not take many. The revenue generated by nonresident wolf hunters is about $50,000 per year. A lot of nonresident hunters buy a tag just in case they might see a wolf. Number 668 MR. REGELIN conjectured that he felt it unwise to pass this bill because of the overwhelming public opposition to bounties and that SB 81 is not in the best interest of wolf management in Alaska, in the long term. Number 702 MR. REGELIN said he would address earlier testimony and discussed the two areas of Alaska where there are real problems with wolves. In the area around McGrath, the moose population is being severely impacted by wolves and it is reducing the ability of the people there to harvest moose. In the other area, the Forty-mile caribou herd, there is about 22,000 caribou. He said there is no doubt that there could be 200,000 and what is keeping the herd from growing is wolf predation. MR. REGELIN said last fall, the Board of Game implemented SB 77, the intensive management law that was passed in 1994, and authorized predator management programs for both McGrath and the Forty-mile caribou herd, but delayed implementation of them until 1997, in order for the National Academy of Science to complete the review that the Governor requested them to do. Number 769 MR. REGELIN said in Unit 13, the management of wolves is not a big problem in that area. He said there are about 350 to 400 wolves in the area with a harvest goal each year of 170 to 180. The trappers and hunters have been able to achieve that goal each year leaving a minimum population of wolves to maintain in that area. He said we do not need wolf control in Unit 13, the big problem there is Grizzly bears predation on moose calves. MR. REGELIN discussed statewide statistics of wildlife management and the ability of the Board of Game to maximize harvests on a sustained yield basis. He said there are two areas where we have a big problem with predators and it is beyond the division's control to fix those. Those decisions are being made at much higher levels and the division is in real jeopardy of losing its ability and funding to manage wildlife around Alaska because we cannot do wolf control in a couple of areas. Number 962 MR. REGELIN talked about the seasons along the road system being restricted and the department's ability to extend the season to 30 days in most road connected areas, and to begin the season before school starts. He said we are harvesting just as many moose as we did 20 years ago along the road system in Unit 13, it fluctuates from about 800 to 1,000 in that area, and it is the same in Unit 20A. He said there are a lot of moose in those Units and they need to be harvested. Number 1033 MR. REGELIN said the department was prevented from having cow harvest seasons in those areas because of the way the law is structured. Local advisory committees can stop cow moose hunts and have done so in Units 13 and 20A. We are near carrying capacity in both of these areas, but we cannot increase the harvest of bulls only or the bull-cow ratio gets out of balance and productivity declines. He said it is the same in the Nelchina basin, the division will recommend to the Board of Game to take action to allow taking about 6,000 to 7,000 caribou in Unit 13. He said the caribou population there is about 50,000. He said we just cannot carry that many caribou because of federal intervention in the subsistence laws. A caribou hunt is a Tier II. It is difficult for us to manage, but we are going to issue enough Tier II permits or go from a Tier I to a Tier II combination. That will be a board decision on how to allocate the permits. Mr. Regelin said the department would like to harvest about 12,000 caribou in that herd to reduce it. Number 1104 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Mr. Regelin to confirm that the department is currently using predator control in some areas. MR. REGELIN said the department prefers to call it regulation of populations or just good wildlife management. He responded that in Unit 13, the department has changed the season and the bag limits on Grizzly bears. That has been done in areas where there are a lot of Grizzlies and the board decided that the management goal of this one area is to produce more ungulates. He said the department is not doing any wolf control as such, but manages wolves by trapping and hunting. About 1,200 to 1,500 wolves are taken each year. In Unit 13, we set goals on the numbers on wolves we would like hunters and trappers to take. That is done through a management plan with a lot of public input to make sure that wolves are not overharvested and are kept in balance. NUMBER 1180 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said he appreciates Mr. Regelin's caveat, but the fact is, there are wolves and bears being taken now through animal control or through the department's animal management program. So, the hue and cry, the concept that we are destroying Rin Tin Tin from the Outside, that is already there. The fact that we are already doing it should not be foreign to the state. Number 1258 MR. REGELIN said the department tries to regulate through science and good management practices all of the game populations which includes wolves and bears. We do not call it "moose control" when we regulate the numbers of moose and we have to do that. MR. REGELIN said in response to Chairman Green's question about the state having very few roads that if you build roads in Alaska, it increases opportunities to harvest and the department can manage that access appropriately. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said that was exactly his point, we will do things for the sake of mankind by allowing him to live and move around here, yet for the sake of mankind, to get an additional harvest, we are resistant to that because we would have to kill wolves. Number 1310 MR. REGELIN said the department is not resistant to that and work hard to enhance hunting opportunities throughout the state. It is one of the many legitimate uses of wildlife and we want to increase that. The problem, when you get to wolves, is that science and logic seem to be lost. It becomes an emotional argument and a clash of value systems and people just do not want wolves to be controlled. The department is still managing, regulating and harvesting wolves in most areas of the state, but when you request the department to take direct action where we would shoot wolves out of airplanes or whether we have a trapping program; then you get the public in a furor and we are kind of in a box. Number 1367 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN discussed pictures the committee was shown of partially eaten and mutilated carcasses of moose and dogs where wolves were not just killing to eat; they were killing to kill. Number 1400 MR. REGELIN said wolves are a very efficient predator and there are cases the department is aware of called "surplus killing" when the wolves find a very vulnerable population of animals. They can kill more than they need to eat. It is not common but it has happened. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted the arrival of Representative Barnes. Number 1429 REPRESENTATIVE RAMONA BARNES talked about several instances in the Anchorage area of wolves carrying off little dogs and mutilating them. She asked Mr. Regelin if the department was attending to the wolf population on the fringes of Anchorage. MR. REGELIN responded that the hunting and trapping season is open in that area so people can harvest or take those wolves, but there is no department action to find the wolves in that area. Number 1479 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES expressed concern that there are that many wolves around a large population area killing little dogs for no apparent reason. She said there is a misnomer that wolves only kill the old, she said wolves also kill the very young. MR. REGELIN agreed, he said most of the predation done by wolves is on younger and newborn animals up through that first year of life. Number 1570 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said we have heard testimony that this bill is just for urban hunters. He asked Mr. Regelin if he would classify the hunters around the McGrath area as urban hunters. MR. REGELIN said McGrath is a very rural area in Unit 19. He said the people of McGrath, Telida and Nikolai are primarily dependent on the resource for food. Number 1613 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to Mr. Regelin's testimony as saying Grizzly bears have a long life and low reproductivity. He asked if that is a fair characteristic of a wolf as well. MR. REGELIN said wolves have a very high reproductive rate and, for that reason, why they can be managed differently. They move around and interchange in packs and colonize new areas very rapidly. They have a reproductive rate of up to 40 percent a year. Number 1646 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN asked, is it true that the Forty-mile caribou herd is in serious trouble? If it is, is wolf predation a major factor in the decline of that herd? MR. REGELIN responded that the Forty-mile caribou herd, located north of Tok covers a large area of eastern Interior Alaska. It is not in trouble, there are 22,000 animals there. He said the herd dropped to about 7,500 in the late 1970s and has gradually built up. But it is not growing. The range there is good habitat, in empty country, and can handle ten times or more caribou. The department is trying to get that population to grow. We have had restrictive seasons of bulls only, but it is growing slowly because of wolf predation on newborn calves. MR. REGELIN discussed the Forty-mile Planning Team which included participants from Anchorage, Fairbanks and Canada. He said this not a departmental planning team, this is a grass roots effort that came out of the local advisory committees in the area. The team asked themselves what they could do to solve the problem of predation on calves to increase the caribou herd from 20,000 to 200,000. The planning committee recommended moving juvenile wolves and sterilizing adult male wolves. The department is looking at that to see if it can be done. The planning team is still intact to help us do this and we are hopeful there will be something to come from their recommendation. This group, which included some of our most vocal critics, realized that wolf control was probably not going to happen and they looked at alternative ways to take actions to be successful. Number 1844 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN related that the federal government had once maintained a wolf control, almost an eradication program, in Alaska using methods such as cyanide traps. He said there is a perception by the public that Alaskan hunters think that the only good wolf, is a dead wolf. We are simply trying to manipulate the situation to bring the levels down to assure there are adequate populations of wolves. He asked Mr. Regelin to compare this to the activities that went on in the past, in Alaska. Number 1955 MR. REGELIN said before statehood there was widespread wolf control programs. The federal government had predator control agents in Alaska whose job was to trap and poison wolves. At statehood, one of first acts of the legislature was to ban the poisoning of wildlife except in Southeast Alaska, and it was banned there in 1968. MR. REGELIN said there are about 7,000 to 8,000 wolves in Alaska right now, probably as many as the state has ever had. He feels most hunters and Alaskans are proud of the fact that we do, but the state must also regulate their harvest and manage them properly or in the long term there won't be any wolves. He said good wildlife management is regulating harvests and regulating wolf populations. Number 2078 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN concurred saying he also wants to keep a healthy population of wolves in the state and that he wants to manage the wildlife also. CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said the committee would hear from Bill Hagar on the teleconference network. Number 2106 BILL HAGAR said SB 81 is long overdue. He testified that predator harvest is difficult physically and economically. Currently, with a temporary depression in fur prices, it is not economically feasible to harvest wolves. A raw wolf, taxidermy quality, brings about $200.00 to the fur buyer. SB 81 will help restore the feasibility to the economic side of the equation. He said that predator harvest is routinely ignored, and the imbalance of management threatens the purpose for which we manage our renewable resources. There are hundreds of thousands of moose, sheep, caribou calves and lambs that die needlessly every year. About 87 percent of the harvestable surplus, under proper and balanced management could be managed to grow and feed many Alaskan families. MR. HAGAR said there are biological predator pits developing all over the state, and they are not being spoken to or managed adequately. SB 81 is good, it is required constitutionally, and is the reason we started managing game in the first place. Number 2365 MR. HAGAR provided statistics on the growth of wolf populations and said if that is not cared for on a routine basis, it can easily get out of hand. He referred to Unit 13 saying the department had demonstrated that the sustaining portion of the herd had actually decreased from 25,000 to 19,000 in one year. That caribou herd is in jeopardy from the wolves and the bears. The Board of Game took action only on the bear predation. Number 2446 MR. HAGAR said, "the National Academy of Sciences was founded by the medical community to deal with medical scenario's. I have some correspondence from them that they feel reluctant to deal with the issue based on".....end tape. CHANGE TAPE TAPE 96-11, SIDE A Number 000 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS recapped earlier testimony from the sponsor, Senator Sharp, that said four Governors have dealt with this issue; the department recommended that we have an intensive management program and we stopped because of public pressure. Now another scientist is looking at intensive game management in an area we know is being hurt by the wolves. When do we take a strong stand and say who is correct? Who is funding this scientific review? Number 135 MR. REGELIN agreed saying the state has started numerous times, since the 1970s, to do more intensive management and wolf control. Each time it has gone on for a while and then been stopped due to public opinion, and the political leadership chose to curtail those activities. MR. REGELIN said the National Academy of Science study came about because the science of predator management that we were using was challenged by animal rights groups and people who work for animal rights groups. The credibility of that science was challenged and when that happens, it is very difficult to sit and argue amongst ourselves whether the science is valid. The Governor requested that we have an outside review of the science and economics of predator management in Alaska and wolf control. That study will begin very soon. He informed the committee of the background and logic for hiring the National Academy of Sciences. He said the division had $160,000 in last years general wildlife budget set aside to do wolf control. The money was kept at headquarters and that money will pay the National Academy of Science review. Number 390 CO-CHAIRMAN WILLIAMS emphasized that the legislature has been studying this issue for years. He said the legislature spent three years working on an intensive game management bill, SB 77; which he felt was a good bill at that time. Again, the legislature is funding the division for more expert advice on an issue the legislature already said was needed. Number 542 MR. REGELIN said wolves and wildlife have coexisted forever, in Alaska; and in most places there is not a problem. There are two areas where there are severe problems and when you get into those predator pits without proper action, it is going to take a very long time to recover. Number 576 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said she felt the problem the state has with wolf control is because it is classified as a big game animal; and she supports SB 81 taking it out of that classification. She questioned the necessity of the bounty. MR. REGELIN said it is not necessary, in certain key areas with this incentive, it might increase the harvest, but the department is not sure. Number 637 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES moved to pass SB 81 from the Resources Committee with individual recommendations with attached fiscal note. Number 637 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES objected and proposed an amendment to delete lines 8 through 12 on page one. REPRESENTATIVE OGAN objected. REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said he objected to SB 81 because the bill is inserting politics into the management of game. It is the purview of the Board of Game to make these decisions on classifications and the arguments ought to be made there. We do not have the time or the expertise here to make this kind of decision. Secondly, in the fiscal note, the state loses about $50,000 a year. He said the purpose of the bill is the harvest incentive, and feels that lines eight through 12 are not necessary to achieve the harvest incentive in the designated areas as indicated. The amendment does not harm the underlying purpose of the bill, it nets the state $50,000; and it leaves the management and classification issues to the Board of Game. Number 761 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES strenuously objected to the amendment because the "guts" of the bill is the classification of the animal. She said she also takes exception to anyone saying the legislature has no business doing classification. Under the Constitution of the state of Alaska, we are solely responsible for the fish and game resources and the allocation of them. We have delegated that responsibility to the Board of Fish and Game, but we are the ultimate, responsible body. Number 825 Representative Davies voted in favor of the amendment. Representatives Austerman, Barnes, Kott, Long, Nicholia, Ogan, Williams and Green voted against the amendment. So the amendment failed. Number 872 REPRESENTATIVE BARNES said her motion was still pending to move CSSB 81(FIN) from committee with individual recommendations with the attached fiscal note. She asked for unanimous consent. There being no objection, it was so ordered. HB 447 - CAN'T CLOSE LAND TO TRADITIONAL REC. USES Number 882 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said three people on the teleconference network wished to testify on House Bill 447. Number 915 DICK BISHOP, Executive Director, Alaska Outdoor Council, testified in support of HB 447 saying the council strongly advocates protection of public access for trails and traditional uses such as hunting and fishing and other outdoor activities. He said in some cases state land can be put off limits administratively to those kinds of access, we do not feel that is appropriate. This bill addresses that particular problem and it is important to ensure that access to public land doesn't slip through the cracks. He urged the committee to pass the bill. Number 991 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN said the committee will schedule HB 447 for another hearing. He announced that HB 325, Heavy Oil, will be heard by the committee on Wednesday, February 7. Number 1033 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES informed the chairman that he had prepared an amendment to HB 325. Number 1050 ADJOURNMENT There being no further business to come before the House Resources Committee, Chairman Green adjourned the meeting at 9:56 a.m.