Legislature(1997 - 1998)

02/19/1997 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  HOUSE BILL 26                                                                
       "An Act  relating  to big  game  tags for  wolves;  and                 
       providing for an effective date."                                       
  that  HB  26   addresses  the   need  to  provide   wildlife                 
  specialists  with  the  proper  management  tools  in  areas                 
  identified  as  needing  intense management.    In  light of                 
  Ballot Initiative #3  being approved,  he suggested that  it                 
  was more  important  to  pass  HB 26.    Without  sufficient                 
  latitude, it would  be difficult for the Department  of Fish                 
  and Game  and the Board of Game  to meet the requirements of                 
  sustained yield management  under Article VIII of  the State                 
  Mr. Stancliff continued, to maintain a healthy population of                 
  moose,  caribou,  and  sheep  for  both  human  and  natural                 
  harvest, the Department and  Board of Game have  few choices                 
  once hunting has  been reduced or  eliminated.  HB 26  would                 
  provide  increased incentives  for non-resident  hunters who                 
  consider the purchase of a big game tag to harvest wolves.                   
  Those  hunters  are  generally under  the  supervision  of a                 
  professional guide  which requires a more  closely monitored                 
  entry  into  the  field.     Together  with  more  stringent                 
  reporting requirements  of animals  both taken  and shipped,                 
  would  provide  the  Department a  well  controlled  tool in                 
  attaining  the  scientifically established  population goals                 
  for a given  area.  He noted, of  the 10,000 nonresident who                 
  typically hunt  in Alaska  annually, less  than 3%  purchase                 
  tags for harvesting  a wolf.   The main  reason for low  tag                 
  sales is that the  opportunity to harvest a wolf  is remote.                 
  Consequently, most hunters are unwilling to pay a large  sum                 
  of money with such poor odds.  Mr. Stancliff thought that by                 
  establishing a more reasonable price on tags, the Department                 
  should see a significant rise in  sales placing more dollars                 
  into the  Fish  and  Game  Fund while  also  increasing  the                 
  incidental take of wolves.                                                   
  He concluded that HB  26 would provide a wider  latitude for                 
  the Board of Game in making adjustments to meet the needs of                 
  both  human  and  secondary  utilization  of  our  important                 
  ungulate resources  while increasing the revenues for better                 
  management.  Mr. Stancliff urged  the Committee's support of                 
  the legislation.                                                             
  In  response  to  Representative  Therriault's  query,   Mr.                 
  Stancliff responded  that the  fees would  be applicable  to                 
  resident  and resident  non-aliens.   The  legislation would                 
  reduce  the fee  for non-resident  hunters from $175  to $30                 
  dollars,  reducing  big  game  fee wolf  tag  fee  for  non-                 
  residents from $250 to $50 dollars.  He  noted at this time,                 
  there is no fee for residents.                                               
  Co-Chair  Therriault  asked  how the  fiscal  note  had been                 
  calculated.  Mr. Stancliff replied that last year, consensus                 
  had been reached with the Department  of Fish and Game, that                 
  the requested level not be prohibitive for big game  hunters                 
  to pick up  a tag.   The Department  attempted to  calculate                 
  revenues  generated if  50%  of  the  non-residents  hunters                 
  purchased tags.                                                              
  Representative Grussendorf stressed  that tags are necessary                 
  in  order   to  monitor   the  harvest   of  wolves   within                 
  relationship to the game management.                                         
  DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, stated that a count of how many                 
  wolves had been harvested would  be provided when having the                 
  hides sealed.  The hide can not be exported out of the State                 
  without being sealed and at that time the  information being                 
  Representative Grussendorf asked  if that would be  true for                 
  State  residents.     Mr.  Regelin   advised  Representative                 
  Grussendorf  that  there  is good  reporting  of  numbers of                 
  wolves harvested.  He reiterated that in order to export the                 
  hides to have them tanned or to be sold, they must be sealed                 
  by the  Department.  The hide can  not be sold if  it is not                 
  Co-Chair  Therriault asked the  Department's position on the                 
  proposed  legislation.     Mr.   Regelin  stated   that  the                 
  Department of Fish and Game  supports the legislation.   The                 
  wolf  population   in  Alaska  is  under-utilized   and  the                 
  legislation would provide  more opportunity to  sportsmen to                 
  harvest wolves without damage to that population.                            
  spoke  against  the  proposed  legislation.    She  informed                 
  Committee members that  the reduction cost  of tag fees  for                 
  hunting wolves would  not increase  revenue.  She  suggested                 
  that the  bill was clearly a  voice against the  will of the                 
  people and their vote on Proposition #3.                                     
  Co-Chair  Therriault  countered  that  there  could   be  an                 
  increase in revenue because  the fee would be lower  and the                 
  tags would be  easier to  purchase.   He added  that in  his                 
  district, Proposition #3 failed.                                             
  Representative  Grussendorf asked  if  there were  any areas                 
  within the  State where  a smaller  wolf population  exists.                 
  Mr.  Regelin confirmed  that the wolf  population throughout                 
  Alaska is healthy  with between 7,000  and 10,000 wolves  in                 
  the State.  The average yearly harvest is 1,100  wolves.  He                 
  emphasized that  the bill  is not a  predator control  bill.                 
  The legislation will  provide more opportunity to  harvest a                 
  resource that is abundant.  Mr. Regelin added, the only area                 
  of  concern  would be  on the  Seward  Peninsula.   The wolf                 
  population there is  kept at  a lower level  because of  the                 
  reindeer industry.                                                           
  In response to questions by Representative  Grussendorf, Mr.                 
  Regelin advised that 60-70% of the  wolf harvest is taken by                 
  Representative Mulder MOVED to report HB 26 out of Committee                 
  with  individual recommendations  and with  the accompanying                 
  fiscal note.  There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered.                   
  HB  26  was  reported out  of  Committee  with  a "do  pass"                 
  recommendation and with a  fiscal note by the  Department of                 
  Fish and Game dated 1/31/97.                                                 

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