Legislature(1999 - 2000)
03/23/1999 01:40 PM FIN
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HOUSE BILL NO. 114 "An Act repealing the prohibition against the taking of antlerless moose." EDDIE GRASSER, STAFF, REPRESENTATIVE BEVERLY MASEK, advised that HB 114 would remove the statutory stipulations requiring advisory committees to approve anterless hunts before the Board of Game can implement them. He stated that it would effectively reduce the time involved in implementing anterless hunts, as well as save money. Mr. Grasser continued, since 1975, the Board of Game has been required to obtain the approval of a majority of the local advisory committees in proximity to the game management unit for which the hunt is proposed. The requirement has caused the Department of Fish and Game and the Board, time and expense to pursue antlerless moose hunts. Originally, the provision was instigated on behalf of Alaskans who felt that cow moose hunts were wrong for a variety of reasons regardless of the biological evidence. Since then, the Department has managed to educate most Alaskans about the benefits of anterless hunts in relation to overall population dynamics and quality of habitat. Mr. Grasser stated that HB 114 would benefit the State and the Board of Game by streamlining the regulatory process providing a cost savings to the State in time and money. The Board costs about $10 thousand dollars a day in order to be in session. Co-Chair Therriault questioned if the Department of Fish and Game's fiscal note adequately reflected the anticipated savings. Mr. Grasser ascertained that the Department hastily had calculated the fiscal note, however, he believed that there would not be huge savings. In response to Co- Chair Therriault, Mr. Grasser informed members that an antlerless moose is a cow moose. Representative Grussendorf voiced concern with the Department not being able to call emergency closures to regulate the stocks. Representative Bunde spoke in support of the legislation. He went on to say that scientific research has proven that anterless harvest can be beneficial. Representative Austerman asked if the reason for the legislation was that the advisory board was no longer needed. Mr. Grasser explained that historical record has proven that they are no longer required. He pointed out that anterless moose hunts are the only regulated hunt in the State, which require this special step to take place before the hunt can begin. He added that in Alaska, it is legal to hunt cow caribou, nanny goats and sows without cubs. MATTHEW ROBUS, ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR, WILDLIFE CONSERVATION DIVISION, DEPARTMENT OF FISH AND GAME, stated that the Department supports HB 114 which would repeal the requirement to annually reauthorize each moose hunt in the State. Current law causes an unnecessary burden and some extra costs to the Department staff. The present Board of Game cycle addresses four regions of the State once every two years. The Department is forced every spring to address every anterless moose season in the State. Each spring, area biologists and advisory committees are required to go through this process. Mr. Robus commented that the fiscal note was based on the increased costs from the annual reauthorization exercise at the Board of Game level. There have been increased costs for area biologists to travel to advisory boards. Those costs are not well reflected in the note, and he admitted that there could be additional savings. Mr. Robus urged passage of the legislation to achieve better wildlife management while saving money. Co-Chair Therriault asked if the "other" travel by the biologists would be listed in the Fish and Game fund or the general fund travel expenditure. Mr. Robus replied it would be listed in the fish and game funds and the federal program receipt funds. Representative Grussendorf commented that if the advisory boards were no longer used, the Department would be called upon more often to address questions and give advice to the Board of Game. He suggested that would result in not much savings. Mr. Robus replied that the Department meets with the advisory committees quite regularly and offered assurance that if there was a problem, it would continue to be addressed. Area biologists have emergency authority delegated to address any harvest season. Mr. Robus continued, there has been much effort put into working situations out with advisory committees. He recommended that it is always better to address concerns at a local level. Advisory committees will continue to be involved in the management process. Mr. Robus added that the federal subsistence process and the dual management system have substantially modified the State's jurisdiction for wildlife. Representative Bunde advised that the legislation does not preclude advisory board participation; it simply removes their statutory veto power. He added that advisory boards will participate on many subjects and would continue to be involved on important concerns. DAVID KELLYHOUSE, ALASKA OUTDOOR COUNCIL, FAIRBANKS, acknowledged that the test of any good government is its willingness to take unnecessary and expensive regulations off statute when the opportunity arises to save money. He urged the Committee's support of the legislation. Representative Foster MOVED to report HB 114 out of Committee with individual recommendations and with the fiscal note. There being NO OBJECTION, it was so ordered. HB 114 was reported out of Committee with a "do pass" recommendation and with a fiscal note by the Department of Fish and Game dated 3/16/99.