Legislature(2003 - 2004)

05/09/2004 04:40 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
               HOUSE RESOURCES STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                          May 9, 2004                                                                                           
                           4:40 p.m.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Representative Nancy Dahlstrom, Co-Chair                                                                                        
Representative Beverly Masek, Co-Chair                                                                                          
Representative Cheryll Heinze, Vice Chair                                                                                       
Representative Carl Gatto                                                                                                       
Representative Bob Lynn                                                                                                         
Representative Kelly Wolf                                                                                                       
Representative Beth Kerttula                                                                                                    
Representative David Guttenberg                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Representative Nick Stepovich                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
OTHER LEGISLATORS PRESENT                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Senator Ralph Seekins (via teleconference)                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 297(RES)                                                                                                 
"An Act relating to bear predation management and the donation                                                                  
and sale of bear hides and skulls."                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
     - HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BILL: SB 297                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: BEAR HUNTING/DISPOSAL OF HIDE/SKULL                                                                                
SPONSOR(S): SENATOR(S) SEEKINS                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
02/06/04       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
02/06/04       (S)       RES, FIN                                                                                               
03/17/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
03/17/04       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/17/04       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/02/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/02/04       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/02/04       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/07/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/07/04       (S)       -- Rescheduled to 4 pm 04/07/04 --                                                                     
04/14/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/14/04       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/14/04       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/16/04       (S)       RES AT 3:30 PM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/16/04       (S)       Moved CSSB 297(RES) Out of Committee                                                                   
04/16/04       (S)       MINUTE(RES)                                                                                            
04/19/04       (S)       RES RPT CS FORTHCOMING 5DP                                                                             
04/19/04       (S)       DP: OGAN, DYSON, WAGONER,                                                                              
04/19/04       (S)       STEVENS B, SEEKINS                                                                                     
04/20/04       (S)       RES CS RECEIVED   NEW TITLE                                                                            
04/21/04       (S)       FIN REFERRAL WAIVED REFERRED TO RULES                                                                  
04/29/04       (S)       TRANSMITTED TO (H)                                                                                     
04/29/04       (S)       VERSION: CSSB 297(RES)                                                                                 
05/01/04       (H)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
05/01/04       (H)       STA, RES                                                                                               
05/04/04       (H)       STA AT 8:00 AM CAPITOL 102                                                                             
05/04/04       (H)       Moved Out of Committee                                                                                 
05/04/04       (H)       MINUTE(STA)                                                                                            
05/05/04       (H)       STA RPT 3NR 2AM                                                                                        
05/05/04       (H)       NR: GRUENBERG, HOLM, LYNN;                                                                             
05/05/04       (H)       AM: SEATON, WEYHRAUCH                                                                                  
05/09/04       (H)       RES AT 4:00 PM CAPITOL 124                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN HOVE, Staff                                                                                                               
to Senator Ralph Seekins                                                                                                        
Alaska State Legislature                                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION STATEMENT:  Presented SB 297 on behalf of the sponsor,                                                                 
Senator Seekins.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
PAUL JOHNSON (ph)                                                                                                               
(Address not provided)                                                                                                          
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of SB 297, provided                                                                      
comments and suggested the bill should be amended.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
ROB HOLT                                                                                                                        
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  During discussion of SB 297, provided                                                                      
comments and expressed opposition to "the measures of this                                                                      
bill."                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM FRITZGERALD, Owner                                                                                                      
Denali Guides & Outfitters                                                                                                      
Talkeetna, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in opposition to SB 297.                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER YUHAS, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska Outdoor Council (AOC)                                                                                                    
Fairbanks, Alaska                                                                                                               
POSITION STATEMENT:  Testified in support of SB 297.                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
WAYNE REGELIN, Deputy Commissioner                                                                                              
Office of the Commissioner                                                                                                      
Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G)                                                                                        
Juneau, Alaska                                                                                                                  
POSITION  STATEMENT:    During discussion  of  SB  297,  provided                                                               
comments and responded to questions.                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
TAPE 04-29, SIDE A                                                                                                            
Number 0001                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  BEVERLY  MASEK  called  the  House  Resources  Standing                                                             
Committee meeting to  order at 4:40 p.m.   Representatives Masek,                                                               
Dahlstrom,  Gatto, Heinze,  Wolf, Guttenberg,  and Kerttula  were                                                               
present at  the call  to order.   Representative Lynn  arrived as                                                               
the meeting was in progress.                                                                                                    
                                                                                                                                
SB 297 - BEAR HUNTING/DISPOSAL OF HIDE/SKULL                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0046                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK  announced that the  only order of  business would                                                               
be CS  FOR SENATE  BILL NO.  297(RES), "An  Act relating  to bear                                                               
predation management and the donation  and sale of bear hides and                                                               
skulls."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 0120                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
BRIAN  HOVE,  Staff  to  Senator   Ralph  Seekins,  Alaska  State                                                               
Legislature,  sponsor,  presented SB  297  on  behalf of  Senator                                                               
Seekins.   He  offered his  belief that  SB 297  is in  essence a                                                               
predator  control program  for bears  only in  those areas  where                                                               
bears are  identified as  being a problem.   He  paraphrased from                                                               
the   sponsor  statement,   which   read  [original   punctuation                                                               
provided]:                                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
      There is no shortage of black or grizzly/brown bears                                                                      
       in Alaska.  Here, they are neither threatened nor                                                                        
     endangered.   In  some Game  Management Units  the bear                                                                    
     populations  are  many  multiples  of  the  established                                                                    
     population objectives.   The Alaska Department  of Fish                                                                    
     and Game estimates statewide  black bear populations as                                                                    
     high as  200,000 and the grizzly/brown  bear population                                                                    
     as high as 35,000.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     In certain Game Management  Units, estimates range from                                                                    
     70-90% of  all the  moose calves  are dead  before they                                                                    
     reach two  months of  age due, in  large part,  to bear                                                                    
     predation.  As a  result, fall recruitment is virtually                                                                    
     zero   and  the   reproductive  base   populations  are                                                                    
     crashing.    The  well  publicized  2003  McGrath  bear                                                                    
     relocation  experiment  clearly   demonstrated  that  a                                                                    
     reduction  in bear  populations has  a direct  positive                                                                    
     effect on  increasing calf  survivability and  thus the                                                                    
     long-term  health  of  the resource.    But  relocation                                                                    
     efforts do not solve the underlying problem.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     Senate   Bill  297   addresses   Alaska's  bear   over-                                                                  
     population problem  in those places -  called Intensive                                                                    
     Management Areas  - where  the Board  of Game  has: (1)                                                                    
     first determined  that consumptive use of  the big game                                                                    
     population  is a  preferred use;  (2) depletion  of the                                                                    
     big game  population has occurred  and may result  in a                                                                    
     significant  reduction in  the allowable  human harvest                                                                    
     of the population; and (3)  enhancement of abundance or                                                                    
     productivity  of  the  big   game  prey  population  is                                                                    
     feasibly  achievable utilizing  recognized and  prudent                                                                    
     active management techniques.                                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
     It is  important to understand  that the  provisions in                                                                    
     SB  297 only  come  into  play if  the  Board of  Game,                                                                    
     advised by the Department  of Fish and Game biologists,                                                                    
     finds  that  bears are  a  cause  of the  depletion  or                                                                    
     reduction of big game productivity.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
     Once the above  findings have been made,  SB 297 allows                                                                    
     for remediation  efforts through  the issuance  of bear                                                                    
     predation  management permits.   These  special-purpose                                                                    
     permits  relax  certain  restrictions relative  to  the                                                                    
     taking of bears in those  areas where bear predation is                                                                    
     identified  as  a  problem.   The  Bill  also  provides                                                                    
     guidance  with  respect  to bear  sealing  as  well  as                                                                    
     disposition of hides and skulls taken under this Act.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     A strong point of emphasis  is that this program in all                                                                    
     reality  is,  and  should  be  viewed  as,  a  predator                                                                    
     control  program.   The provisions  of the  Act do  not                                                                    
     apply  to  Game  Management Units  in  which  intensive                                                                    
     management  is not  necessary.   Furthermore, proactive                                                                    
     measures end as  soon as the bear  populations are once                                                                    
     again within  the population objectives that  have been                                                                    
     set by the Board of Game.                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
Number 0501                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
PAUL JOHNSON (ph) said that  he has "been around" game management                                                               
for  many, many  years.    He relayed  that  Senator Seekins  has                                                               
acknowledged in a  prior hearing that he is "taking  a gamble" on                                                               
"our guide-required  law" and on a  court case, likening it  to a                                                               
50-50 coin  toss.   Mr. Johnson mentioned  that an  attorney he's                                                               
heard  from   has  indicated  that   should  the   bill  engender                                                               
litigation, the  state would  lose.  He  also mentioned  that the                                                               
Alaska Department  of Fish &  Game (ADF&G) could not  predict how                                                               
many  more  bears would  be  taken  should  the  bill pass.    He                                                               
expressed concern  that should  Alaska lose  its "guide-required"                                                               
law, it would affect sheep and  goat hunting and other aspects of                                                               
the [hunting] industry.  He opined  that it would not be right or                                                               
worth it to  take a 50-50 gamble  on this issue.  If  the goal is                                                               
predator  control, then  just do  predator control,  he remarked,                                                               
"but  don't take  it  away from  the guides."    He concluded  by                                                               
offering his belief  that the bill needs to be  amended by taking                                                               
the nonresident and nonresident alien sections out.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0762                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
ROB  HOLT mentioned  that  he  is Vice  President  of the  Alaska                                                               
Professional  Hunters Association,  Inc. (APHA),  and that  he is                                                               
speaking on  behalf of  himself and  other concerned  guides from                                                               
the Talkeetna area.  He said  that he is opposed to "the measures                                                               
of  this  bill,"  and  relayed  that  he  has  submitted  written                                                               
comments.   He expressed agreement  with Mr.  Johnson's comments,                                                               
adding:                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
     In areas where  people rely on moose  hunting and other                                                                    
     animals   that  don't   have   a  guide-required   law,                                                                    
     essentially  the guiding  business  has  gotten to  the                                                                    
     point where it's  struggling to survive, at  best.  And                                                                    
     in  some  of  these  areas  where  they've  implemented                                                                    
     intensive  management, such  as "16  and 13",  the only                                                                    
     resource that those  guys have left is  brown bears and                                                                    
     black bears.   And  if you remove  [the] guide-required                                                                    
     law in any form in  those areas, essentially those guys                                                                    
     will be  put out  of business  by the  wholesale market                                                                    
     that will ... spring out of this. ...                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     The basis of  my concern is the fact that  this kind of                                                                    
     an  action, when  you're looking  at trying  to control                                                                    
     the  numbers of  these bears  in this  manner, devalues                                                                    
     that wildlife on  a scale that is  recognized by people                                                                    
     around the world.   In other countries  where they have                                                                    
     valuable wildlife that they have  to reduce in numbers,                                                                    
     they do  it professionally -  by culling - and  they do                                                                    
     it  in very  specific areas  to very  specific numbers;                                                                    
     they  do  not  rely   on  a  resident  populace  that's                                                                    
     interested in  hunting to bring about  the reduction of                                                                    
     those numbers.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 0921                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
     And one  of the reasons  they do that is  the political                                                                    
     and scientific  sensibility in what they're  doing, and                                                                    
     what the  end result is,  [is] they maintain  the value                                                                    
     associated to those  animals.  And I  think that that's                                                                    
     primary, here.   I think that the state  of Alaska does                                                                    
     not want to  put itself in a position  where we're seen                                                                    
     as devaluing  our brown bears  anywhere.  A  brown bear                                                                    
     hunt  in   an  area   where  intensive   management  is                                                                    
     necessary should  always be bringing top  value and top                                                                    
     dollar  into  the state,  rather  than  reduced to  the                                                                    
     point where it's  essentially a varmint hunt  - I think                                                                    
     that's going in  leaps and bounds heading  in the wrong                                                                    
     direction.                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOLT added:                                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     And  then the  other  thing, just  in consideration  of                                                                    
     when we get into these  areas where we're deciding that                                                                    
     we need  to reduce  these brown  bear numbers,  I don't                                                                    
     believe that the  state has stepped up to  the plate in                                                                    
     [regard]  to  employing  the most  accurate  technology                                                                    
     available  to have  the right  numbers to  use.   And I                                                                    
     think that  any time  the state's  going to  make those                                                                    
     kind of  tests, it's absolutely essential  that they do                                                                    
     that, and  we haven't  gotten to  that point  with what                                                                    
     the  [ADF&G] uses  for census  and how  they put  their                                                                    
     numbers together. ...  I thank you very,  very much for                                                                    
     the opportunity to comment on this important issue.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR MASEK acknowledged receipt of written testimony from                                                                   
Mr. Holt's wife.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 1133                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WILLIAM   FRITZGERALD,  Owner,   Denali   Guides  &   Outfitters,                                                               
mentioning that he  is a registered guide, said he  is opposed to                                                               
SB 297.   He outlined the number of brown  bear hunts his company                                                               
undertakes in a year, the location  they occur, and the amount of                                                               
time he spends flying over that  area in search of bear and other                                                               
big game animals.  He went on to say:                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
     I'm extremely aware of the  populations of the animals,                                                                    
     and I'm  entrusted to self-manage,  both as  an ethical                                                                    
     hunter and as  [an] ethical business owner.   What I've                                                                    
     seen over the past few  years is a definite increase in                                                                    
     wolf populations,  but under  no circumstances  can ...                                                                    
     the same be said  of the brown/grizzly bear population.                                                                    
     As a  matter of fact,  I believe that [with  regard to]                                                                    
     the [ADF&G],  the only  reliable source  of information                                                                    
     ... they  have on  bear populations  is the  harvest of                                                                    
     bears; I do  not believe that they are  actively in the                                                                    
     field counting bears.                                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
     And I  think this is  paramount in  any type of  a bill                                                                    
     like this -  as a predator control.   Actually, if this                                                                    
     bill were  to come  to fruition,  the results  could be                                                                    
     devastating  to my  business.   In essence,  the Alaska                                                                    
     State Legislature would  be unleashing an unprecedented                                                                    
     number   guides,  hunting   in   competition  for   the                                                                    
     resource,  in  the  name  of  a  management  tool.  ...                                                                    
     Recently  I  drove  down the  highway  and  [saw]  this                                                                    
     billboard that  tells how many  moose have  been killed                                                                    
     by automobiles,  and I think that  [Senator] Seekins is                                                                    
     genuinely concerned  about the huntable  populations of                                                                    
     moose  in Game  Management Unit  13, and  he should  be                                                                    
     working  tirelessly  to  reduce  the  number  of  moose                                                                    
     killed  by automobiles  and  trucks  in the  Matanuska-                                                                    
     Susitna valley.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FRITZGERALD went on to say:                                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
     That number of  moose killed by automobiles  - 375 over                                                                    
     the past  seven months  - does  not include  the number                                                                    
     killed   by  railroad   activities,  and   that's  also                                                                    
     traditionally a  significant number.   Also,  right now                                                                    
     in Game Management Unit 13,  we have the longest season                                                                    
     and   the   most   liberal   hunting   parameters   for                                                                    
     brown/grizzly bear hunting in  North America.  I'd like                                                                    
     to  finish   by  saying  that  I   believe  that  those                                                                    
     regulations  that are  in place  for  hunting bears  in                                                                    
     Game  Management   Unit  13   are  enough   to  prevent                                                                    
     overpopulation of  bears, [and]  will end  predation on                                                                    
     the moose.   And again I  just want to go  on record as                                                                    
     saying that I'm absolutely  opposed to Senate Bill 297,                                                                    
     and  I'd  like  to  thank  you  for  allowing  me  this                                                                    
     opportunity to speak and comment on this bill.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
Number 1417                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
JENNIFER  YUHAS,  Executive   Director,  Alaska  Outdoor  Council                                                               
(AOC), said  simply that she is  speaking on behalf of  the board                                                               
of directors of the AOC  - "an umbrella organization representing                                                               
over  54   member  clubs  and  over   12,000  individual  members                                                               
including  several former  wildlife  management professionals"  -                                                               
and  that the  AOC supports  SB 297  and considers  it a  "useful                                                               
wildlife management tool for the  [ADF&G] in the areas designated                                                               
for intensive  management."  She  relayed that the AOC  urges the                                                               
committee to vote to pass the bill.                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  MASEK, after  determining that  no one  else wished  to                                                               
testify,  suggested that  the committee  direct questions  to the                                                               
sponsor's staff and the ADF&G's representative.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO, referring to  the sponsor's statement which                                                               
asserted that 70  percent of moose calves are dead  by the age of                                                               
two  months,  asked  what  portion  of that  death  rate  can  be                                                               
attributed  to bear  predation, rather  than weather  conditions,                                                               
wolf predation, disease, poaching, and lack of a food supply.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOVE replied, "We  do know that bears are a  big part of that                                                               
number."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
Number 1539                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
WAYNE REGELIN,  Deputy Commissioner, Office of  the Commissioner,                                                               
Alaska Department of  Fish & Game (ADF&G), relayed  that about 70                                                               
percent of  moose calves are  killed in  the first two  months of                                                               
life, almost all by bears, though  the type of bear and the exact                                                               
number of deaths varies in the different game management units.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GATTO questioned, "Would  you say that the control                                                               
of  wolves  is  almost  irrelevant compared  to  the  control  of                                                               
bears?"                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGELIN  replied, "Absolutely  not."    He added  that  calf                                                               
mortality in  the first two months  of life, when the  calves are                                                               
vulnerable,  is very  high, and  that wolves  tend to  take older                                                               
calves in the winter.   He relayed that at least  30 percent of a                                                               
"calf crop"  has to  survive a  year in order  to have  a healthy                                                               
moose population, and that goal is  hard to achieve if 70 percent                                                               
of  calves are  lost "right  off the  bat."   Therefore, in  some                                                               
places, there  must be a  reduction in  both wolves and  bears in                                                               
order to have increased moose populations.                                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOVE, in  response to  a question,  offered his  belief that                                                               
statewide, Alaska's bear population is healthy.                                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF offered his  understanding, however, that the                                                               
brown bear  population on  the Kenai Peninsula  is in  trouble to                                                               
the  extent that  residents can't  have a  brown bear  hunt.   He                                                               
remarked on this apparent discrepancy.                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN said:                                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
     On a statewide  basis, we have very  healthy black bear                                                                    
     populations - I can't think  of anywhere we don't.  The                                                                    
     same is true in most  places for brown bears or grizzly                                                                    
     bears also.  The one  exception is the Kenai Peninsula,                                                                    
     where  there's probably  fewer than  300 grizzly  bears                                                                    
     left, and  it's just an encroachment  of population and                                                                    
     people into an  area.  So that's the one  place that we                                                                    
     manage  ...; essentially  we haven't  had a  hunt there                                                                    
     because the numbers of bears  killed in defense of life                                                                    
     and property exceed the sustainable harvest.                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
Number 1730                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  WOLF  asked whether  the  same  is true  of  "the                                                               
valley."                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR. HOVE referred to a map,  pointed out an area to members where                                                               
there are  sustainable-harvest issues  with regard to  bears, and                                                               
surmised that the  system proposed by SB 297 won't  apply to that                                                               
area.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGELIN  offered  his  belief  that  the  way  the  bill  is                                                               
currently  structured,  it  would  allow  bear  control  programs                                                               
similar  to those  for wolf;  therefore, it  would be  up to  the                                                               
Board of  Game to determine the  methods and means that  could be                                                               
used and  the areas they could  be used in.   Currently, the only                                                               
area for which the ADF&G feels it  has adequate data to do such a                                                               
program is  in Game  Management Unit 13,  which is  the "Nelchina                                                               
basin."   Remarking that  the whole  issue of  bear control  is a                                                               
policy call for the legislature  to make, he acknowledged that it                                                               
would  create  a  risk  for  the  guiding  industry  due  to  the                                                               
[possibility]  that the  change  will engender  litigation.   The                                                               
change proposed by  the bill will provide an  opportunity for the                                                               
ADF&G  to  have  more  hunters  go into  the  field  in  selected                                                               
locations to target bear populations  that need to be reduced for                                                               
the purpose of  reducing predation.  He  characterized the policy                                                               
call  that  the legislature  has  to  make  on  this issue  as  a                                                               
difficult one.                                                                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  asked whether  the bill  refers specifically                                                               
to Game Management Unit 13.                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN said that the bill  leaves the decision of whether to                                                               
institute a bear control program  in a particular area completely                                                               
up to  the Board of  Game.  He reiterated  that the only  area of                                                               
the  state for  which the  ADF&G has  enough information  to even                                                               
consider instituting  such a program  is in Game  Management Unit                                                               
13,  and  surmised  that  it   probably  wouldn't  be  instituted                                                               
anywhere else  in the state  and in  particular not in  the three                                                               
main  trophy  areas -  the  Alaska  Peninsula, Kodiak,  Admiralty                                                               
Island.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 1918                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE    GUTTENBERG    referred   to    the    testimony                                                               
characterizing  the proposed  program  as "a  varmint hunt,"  and                                                               
asked Mr. Regelin to comment.                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN  said that the  way the  bill is structured,  it does                                                               
not propose a method of  hunting; rather, it proposes instituting                                                               
a predator  control program  in which a  special permit  would be                                                               
required,  and the  Board of  Game would  be able  to modify  the                                                               
standard methods  and means for hunting.   The Board of  Game, in                                                               
anticipation of the  change proposed via SB 297,  has discussed a                                                               
variety  of things  that  might  be tried  to  increase the  bear                                                               
harvest, but one of things it  has decided to exclude is allowing                                                               
bears to be taken out of airplanes and helicopters.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked how  much field research has been                                                               
done.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN said  that although bears are a  difficult species to                                                               
study, the ADF&G has had  continuous, long-term research programs                                                               
in Game  Management Unit 13 since  about 1981, and feels  that it                                                               
has reasonably good  estimates of the populations.   He mentioned                                                               
that because of the difficulty  in studying bears, the method the                                                               
ADF&G employs  is to get  population estimates in  small portions                                                               
of the area and then expand those numbers to the larger area.                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN, in  response to a question, said  that several years                                                               
ago the  Board of Game  established a population goal  of 300-350                                                               
[grizzly]  bears  for Game  Management  Unit  13, and  the  ADF&G                                                               
estimates that  currently there  are approximately  1,500 grizzly                                                               
bears in that area.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA said  she didn't see how  SB 297 wouldn't                                                               
be  a   "hunting  bill,"  particularly   since  it   would  allow                                                               
nonresidents to  get a  permit and  go out and  hunt.   She asked                                                               
whether anything similar is being done with other species.                                                                      
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN said no, and  characterized the bill as an innovative                                                               
way of  looking at the  issue of  predator control.   He remarked                                                               
that although in the eyes of  the public the legislation might be                                                               
seen  as a  hunting bill,  from a  legal standpoint  it would  be                                                               
considered  a  predator  control  program, similar  to  the  wolf                                                               
control program.   Also, a  big game  brown bear tag  wouldn't be                                                               
required; instead, a fee would be paid if a bear is harvested.                                                                  
                                                                                                                                
MR.  HOVE  said that  there  are  few realistic  alternatives  to                                                               
what's being proposed by SB 297.                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
Number 2216                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  offered  her belief  that  the  concept                                                               
proposed by  SB 297  for bear  control is  not similar  enough to                                                               
what's  done  for wolf  control  to  warrant comparing  the  two,                                                               
particularly given that people from out  of state can come up and                                                               
get a  permit for bears.   She remarked that the  bill appears to                                                               
threaten  the  guide system  in  Alaska,  and asked  whether  the                                                               
attorney general has  provided an opinion on  the proposed change                                                               
with regard to the current guide system.                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGELIN said  that Kevin  Saxby from  the Department  of Law                                                               
(DOL)  has written  a  letter wherein  he says  it  will be  very                                                               
difficult  to defend  a  court case  that  challenges "the  guide                                                               
requirement bill"  if SB 297  is passed.   He offered  his belief                                                               
that passage of  SB 297 will allow people [from  out of state] to                                                               
come up and  hunt with their friends and  acquaintances without a                                                               
guide.                                                                                                                          
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE KERTTULA  asked Mr. Regelin  to provide a  copy of                                                               
that letter to committee members.                                                                                               
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN  acknowledged that  passage of  SB 297  will increase                                                               
the risk of losing Alaska's guide-requirement law.                                                                              
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE  KERTTULA  asked  how many  guides  are  currently                                                               
registered for bear.                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
MR. FRITZGERALD  offered his belief  that there are  currently 25                                                               
registered  guides  actively  operating  hunting  camps  in  Game                                                               
Management Unit 13.                                                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. JOHNSON  added that  it is important  to recognize  that more                                                               
than just  the guides in that  area that will be  affected if the                                                               
"guide" law  is [overturned]; such will  affect guides statewide,                                                               
and will affect sheep and goat hunting as well as bear hunting.                                                                 
                                                                                                                                
MR.  FRITZGERALD offered  his belief  that the  aforementioned 25                                                               
guides  are  guiding  10-15  grizzly bear  hunts  per  year,  and                                                               
characterized  those numbers  as  already  putting a  significant                                                               
amount of pressure  on the resource.  He offered  his belief that                                                               
ADF&G's  is simply  guessing that  there are  1,500 bears  in the                                                               
area, and  that the ADF&G gets  its numbers from bears  that have                                                               
been  taken rather  than from  aerial surveys.   He  concluded by                                                               
saying that  his aerial surveys  of Game Management Unit  13 lead                                                               
him  to believe  that the  bear population  in that  area is  not                                                               
increasing.                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
Number 2497                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked how adoption  of SB 297 would put                                                               
guiding at risk.                                                                                                                
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN explained that when  the state originally established                                                               
the requirements to have a guide,  it was just for grizzly bears,                                                               
brown bears, and sheep, and it  was intended to ensure the safety                                                               
of the  hunter.   So to then  say, via adoption  of SB  297, that                                                               
some hunters won't be required to  have a guide, puts the current                                                               
law  in  jeopardy.     He  suggested,  too,   that  changing  the                                                               
requirements in  some areas but  not in others could  violate the                                                               
commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution.                                                                                       
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE asked what's required  to become a big game                                                               
[guide].                                                                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
MR.  REGELIN said  that  one  must pass  a  test  after being  an                                                               
assistant guide for several years,  and that the registered guide                                                               
permits are  issued by the  Department of Commerce,  Community, &                                                               
Economic Development (DCCED).   He offered his  belief that there                                                               
are probably  several hundred guides, for  all different species,                                                               
and that it is probably a  $200 million industry.  In response to                                                               
a  question, he  relayed that  the cost  of a  grizzly bear  hunt                                                               
varies by  area, but in  Southeast Alaska, the  Alaska Peninsula,                                                               
and  Kodiak  the cost  ranges  between  $12,000 and  $15,000;  in                                                               
contrast,  the cost  in Game  Management Unit  13 ranges  between                                                               
[$5,000 and $8,000].                                                                                                            
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE HEINZE surmised that since  moose calve out in the                                                               
open, the odds are against calves surviving at all.                                                                             
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN remarked that in  certain areas of Alaska, both brown                                                               
bear and  black bear predation  is a significant factor  in moose                                                               
calf mortality  during the  first two  months of  life.   In most                                                               
areas, he added,  wolves take less than 10 percent  of the calves                                                               
that die  within the first  two months of life;  wolves, however,                                                               
do take a significant number of  yearling moose at other times of                                                               
the  year.     Thus,  in   order  to  effectively   manage  moose                                                               
populations, the ADF&G  must reduce both bear  and wolf predation                                                               
in certain  areas.  In  response to  a comment, he  remarked that                                                               
the  goal  of   wildlife  management  is  to   try  to  stabilize                                                               
populations of  moose so that  people can have a  reliable number                                                               
to harvest.  Without human  intervention, there will be extremely                                                               
low  densities  of  moose  populations,  especially  in  Interior                                                               
Alaska.                                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
Number 2824                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE GUTTENBERG asked how many  moose are killed on the                                                               
road system every year.                                                                                                         
                                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN  said that number  varies greatly from year  to year.                                                               
This year, for example, he'd  heard that from Willow down through                                                               
Palmer, there were approximately 360  moose were killed, but that                                                               
number can  go as  high as 500.   With regard  to how  many moose                                                               
have been  killed on the railroad,  he said that during  one year                                                               
in the  early '80s, approximately  300 moose were  killed, though                                                               
that number has significantly decreased in recent years.                                                                        
                                                                                                                                
REPRESENTATIVE WOLF  relayed that  on the  Kenai Peninsula  a few                                                               
years back,  almost 1,000 moose  were killed on the  road system.                                                               
With regard to the bill, he  remarked that although it looks like                                                               
[a  predator  control] bill,  using  nonresidents  for that  task                                                               
while potentially hurting a $200 million industry defies good                                                                   
common sense.  He indicated that he would be voting "no" on the                                                                 
bill.                                                                                                                           
                                                                                                                                
ADJOURNMENT                                                                                                                   
                                                                                                                                
Number 2920                                                                                                                     
                                                                                                                                
The House Resources Standing Committee was recessed at 5:30 p.m.                                                                
to a call of the chair.  [The meeting was never reconvened.]                                                                    

Document Name Date/Time Subjects