Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/23/1999 01:40 PM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= 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.                                                                                                    

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