Legislature(1995 - 1996)

02/09/1996 09:09 AM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
 HB 313 - BIG GAME TAGS FOR WOLVES                                           
 Number 100                                                                    
 BO FORREST, Volunteer, Alaska Environmental Lobby, testified that             
 in the short time of being in Alaska, he had witnessed some pretty            
 amazing arguments about what is best for the state of Alaska.  He             
 said HB 313 is a real beauty.                                                 
 MR. FORREST said he tried to identify a list of concerns aside from           
 giving away $42,000 of the state's money.  He felt that HB 313 will           
 not affect the state's animal population one way or the other,                
 unless the tourist is considered an animal.  He stated that this              
 bill might attract some wealthy trophy hunter from the outside to             
 tip his guide a bit more.                                                     
 MR. FORREST said his interpretation of HB 313 is, "here hang on to            
 my wallet, while I blast off my other foot."                                  
 Number 275                                                                    
 KEN TAYLOR, Deputy Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation,               
 Alaska Department of Fish and Game, testified that HB 313 would               
 reduce the license fee for nonresidents and nonresident aliens.               
 Currently, there are about 10,000 nonresidents that hunt in Alaska            
 every year.  Of these, about 250 will buy a wolf tag at the current           
 price.  There are about 30 nonresident aliens that buy a wolf tag             
 every year.  Of the 250 people with the tags, they harvest about 30           
 wolves a year.                                                                
 MR. TAYLOR said, reducing the tag fee to $10 or $15 as stated in              
 this bill would probably stimulate some harvest.  With the 10-15              
 percent of the people buying tags now, that would not be a serious            
 increase in the harvest.  As far as its affect on populations, it             
 would have little or no affect and, probably, put more people in              
 the field hunting wolves.                                                     
 Number 383                                                                    
 MR. TAYLOR said the reduction of the Fish and Game Fund by $42,000,           
 is not a large percentage.  He said due to the short notice of the            
 hearing, he did not know the position of the department on HB 313.            
 But, he said the bill is fairly simple and straight forward, and he           
 does not see either a major wildlife concern or a major fiscal                
 Number 469                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE SCOTT OGAN remarked that he offered HB 313 as a                
 alternative way to manage wolves in the state.  He said 10,000                
 nonresident hunters come to Alaska every year.  Wolf tags are                 
 expensive, and if we lowered the price, the incidental take of                
 wolves could significantly increase.  There is no guarantee, but              
 the state has spent thousands and thousands of dollars on ill                 
 conceived, and ineffective control programs.  This concept would              
 allow the Board of Game to manage the level of harvest by adjusting           
 the seasons.                                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said his intent was to give the Board of Game             
 tools to help them manage wolf populations in certain areas.  In              
 the areas where there are problems, they can set more liberal bag             
 limits and seasons, and more hunters in the field will be carrying            
 a wolf tag.                                                                   
 Number 623                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN felt that HB 313 is a cost effective way to               
 give the Board of Game an opportunity to manage wolves.  He asked             
 for the committee's support in passing the bill.                              
 Number 644                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES said he appreciated the motivation in              
 trying to find a way to do intensive game management, with respect            
 to wolves, in a way that will be less controversial.  He said for             
 that reason the proposal has merits, but, geographically, there is            
 no way to direct where takes occur.  We could be taking wolves in             
 areas where there is no problem and we might be taking wolves where           
 populations are already low.  He referred to testimony on SB 81 on            
 January 31, 1996.                                                             
 Number 737                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES said his second concern was that the state              
 would be losing revenues while it encouraged people to hunt wolves            
 in an area where it did not make any difference.                              
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES referred to Mr. Taylor's testimony that there           
 might only be minimal effect on the wolf populations: therefore,              
 the only affect of this bill would be the loss of revenue.  He said           
 he cannot support HB 313 as it is currently written.  He suggested            
 an alternative would be to reconstruct HB 313 so that it is                   
 directed at the areas where the Board of Game has determined that             
 the state needs intensive harvest.                                            
 Number 795                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN countered that he felt HB 313 is not                      
 indiscriminate because it does allow the Board of Game to set                 
 seasons and bag limits.  If there are areas where the board does              
 not want a lot of harvest, they simply tighten up the seasons and             
 the bag limits.  It gives them an active management tool to place             
 seasons and bag limits according to what kind of pressure they want           
 on the animal.                                                                
 Number 830                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN BILL WILLIAMS stated that the bill still results in               
 loss of revenue and it, potentially, adds more management to an               
 issue the state is trying to cut back on.                                     
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said the cry he hears is that there is not                
 enough intensive management of wildlife.                                      
 Number 967                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked Mr. Taylor to return to the table and                 
 address this controversy.                                                     
 MR. TAYLOR responded that it is difficult to say how much impact HB
 313 would have if it were applied statewide.  The legislature has             
 dealt with these issues previously for brown bear.  For instance,             
 the legislature enacted a statute authorizing the board to waive              
 tag fees in areas where the board wanted to direct more pressure.             
 If that is a possibility for resolving the disagreement on the                
 committee, it might be something that you wish to consider.                   
 MR. TAYLOR offered that a similar statute giving the board the                
 flexibility to waive nonresident tag fees entirely, in those areas            
 the board has identified for intensive management, might be more              
 directed toward the problem.                                                  
 Number 1025                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if either case added to the administrative            
 requirements for the Department of Fish and Game.                             
 MR. TAYLOR felt that the administrative requirements would not be             
 Number 1051                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE IRENE NICHOLIA said wolves are usually taken during            
 the winter.  She pointed out that a lot of guiding activity takes             
 place during the moose and caribou hunting seasons.  She asked Mr.            
 Taylor how much guiding activity occurs during the winter months.             
 Number 1111                                                                   
 MR. TAYLOR said guiding activity predominately occurs during the              
 fall season for moose, caribou and brown bear.  Some clients will             
 buy a wolf tag on the off chance that they see a wolf out on their            
 MR. TAYLOR said in the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was some             
 guiding activities exclusively for wolves during the wintertime in            
 Unit 13, the Nelchina Basin, and Unit 26(B), along the Haul Road at           
 Prudhoe Bay.  He said that guiding activity is almost exclusively             
 done during the fall.                                                         
 Number 1149                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked explanation of the incidental taking of               
 MR. TAYLOR talked about Board of Game restrictions on wolf hunting.           
 He said a hunter cannot hunt the say day he is airborne.  Almost              
 all wolf harvest is incidental while moose or caribou hunting.                
 Number 1196                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said HB 313 is designed to enhance incidental             
 take.  He said he does not personally know of anyone who hunts                
 wolves in fall.  He said there is very little pressure on the                 
 wolves because of that.  He discussed his experience on the guide             
 Number 1305                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES remarked that if HB 313 could be modified so            
 that the reduction would be at the discretion of the Board of Game;           
 the state could then surgically direct any loss of revenue into an            
 area where there is a problem.   He said, as the bill stands now,             
 it is too indiscriminate and he cannot support it.                            
 Number 1348                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN expressed willingness to look at modifying HB
 313.  He suggested that the committee hold the bill for further               
 Number 1363                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked if the committee objected to holding the              
 bill.  There were no objections.                                              

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