Legislature(1995 - 1996)

04/03/1996 08:07 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 511                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "HB 313 is straight forward and the least           
 controversial methodology that the state might be able to impose              
 for managing predators.  It simply reduces the tag fees for out of            
 state residents from $175.00 to $30.00 and for non-resident aliens            
 from $250.00 to $50.00."                                                      
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "Currently, there is literally a handful            
 of permits that are issued to nonresidents every year.  The chances           
 of a person running across a wolf during regular hunting seasons in           
 the fall are fairly slim.  The takes are pretty much incidental.              
 We believe that by lowering these fees there will be more people              
 with wolf tags in the field.  The Department of Fish and Game,                
 through its recommendations to the game board, could set seasons              
 and bag limits to effectively manage these areas."                            
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN submitted that, "If a system like this is in              
 place that, quite possibly, in some of the areas we are right now,            
 hunting is restricted for all nonresidents for moose or caribou.              
 And, we have a real bad problem with lack of predator control and             
 too many predators in certain areas that possibly this might have             
 been a tool that could have been used to keep these areas from                
 getting to that point."                                                       
 Number 668                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "Originally we had lowering the price to            
 $10.00 and we felt that the department had a little bit of a                  
 problem with it because they felt it would be a negative fiscal               
 note, or have a negative affect on their revenues and be a fiscal             
 note of about $50,000.  I believe by raising these tags, I would              
 not be surprised, at all, if this brings in more money to the                 
 department.  I believe that guides will advise their hunters that             
 while you are at it, pick up a wolf tag they are only 30 bucks or             
 50 dollars."                                                                  
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "In certain areas where we don't want               
 wolves taken, the game board can still have the ability, and the              
 tools, to restrict harvest and season in those areas.  So, this is            
 not going to be detrimental to the wolf populations in areas that             
 we don't want wolves taken out."                                              
 Number 748                                                                    
 REPRESENTATIVE DON LONG clarified that the committee substitute was           
 lowering tag fees for wolves from $175.00 to $30.00 and $250.00 to            
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN answered that Representative Long was correct,            
 the bill lowers wolf tag fees for nonresident or a nonresident                
 alien hunters.  "We hope that more of them will pick up tags and,             
 the incidental take of wolves while they are in the field hunting             
 generally other species, will increase, allowing the game board to            
 set the harvest and bag limits.  Essentially, it is an accepted               
 practice to bear chase, hunt wolves, that is the biggest outcry of            
 the animal rights activists groups is that some of the methodology            
 that's been proposed is not bear chase.  This certainly is bear               
 chase, and, I believe, gives the game board more latitude to manage           
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN noted earlier arrival of Representatives Davies             
 and Austerman.                                                                
 Number 833                                                                    
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN wanted to know the plan, the nonresident alien is           
 not required to have a nonresident tag if he is hunting in an area            
 of intensive game management.  Will that be by guide only so that             
 the state knows that he is complying with other areas?                        
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN responded that, "Species, except moose and                
 caribou nonresidents are required to have guides.  Chances are                
 nonresidents, especially, and nonresidents do hunt with guides                
 primarily.  It is rare when they do not.  Realistically, most areas           
 where there is intensive management now, and nonresidents cannot              
 hunt for moose and caribou in those areas because there are not               
 enough to go around, nonresidents are the first ones that are not             
 able to hunt."                                                                
 Number 916                                                                    
 GERON BRUCE, Legislative Liaison, Department of Fish and Game,                
 joined the panel and responded to Chairman Green that a nonresident           
 hunting big game would be required to have a guide.  The guide                
 would be familiar with the areas which the Board of Game has                  
 identified as an area for intensive management.  Those are areas              
 where there is a higher population of wolves, or other predators,             
 that would be wise to reduce, so it could have the affect that                
 Representative Ogan is intending.                                             
 MR. BRUCE replied that HB 313 is not a big cost savings, but it is            
 a message that the state is sending encouraging people, if they are           
 so inclined, to go ahead and take a wolf while they are hunting for           
 other species.  He stated that the intensive game management areas,           
 that authority was given to the Board of Game by prior legislation            
 and another bill was recently passed which expands on that initial            
 Number 1095                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN raised the point that other legislation is fining           
 the citizens of the state for taking game out of season while this            
 bill appears to be giving a break to nonresident hunters to come in           
 and hunt wolves.                                                              
 MR. BRUCE informed Chairman Green that residents are not required             
 to have a tag to take wolves so there is no cost for residents.               
 Number 1120                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN answered that the other legislation referred to           
 by Chairman Green affected nonresidents as well as residents.                 
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN wanted to know the effectiveness of incidental              
 Number 1193                                                                   
 MR. BRUCE responded that, historically, there has not been a high             
 interest by nonresidents coming to the state specifically to hunt             
 wolves.  The number of wolves taken by nonresidents has been fairly           
 small and fairly stable.  "I think it is an incidental take                   
 question and I think the intention, though, is that there are                 
 limited tools available that have general acceptance to try to                
 increase the harvest of wolves in areas where there are surpluses             
 and this is intended to provide a tool that would do that.  How               
 effective that will be, we will have to give it some time to see.             
 Number 1247                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN assumed from Mr. Bruce's testimony that the                 
 department is in favor of both the reduction and the nonrequirement           
 for intensive game management areas.                                          
 Number 1261                                                                   
 MR. BRUCE replied that the department has worked with the sponsor             
 and we are comfortable with the bill.                                         
 Number 1270                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE JOHN DAVIES wondered how much the wolf tag is and,             
 specifically, why the language only says eliminate and does not               
 give the possibility of reducing the wolf tag.                                
 MR. BRUCE replied that $175.00 for nonresidents and $250.00 for               
 nonresident aliens is the current requirement.  He explained, "So,            
 it is being reduced in areas which have not been identified for               
 intensive management and waived in areas where intensive management           
 has been implemented.  So, there are two levels of incentive under            
 the bill."                                                                    
 Number 1307                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN referred to Game Management Area 13 stating the           
 state has waived tag fees on grizzly bears for resident hunters in            
 that area.                                                                    
 Number 1359                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIES understood that the bill would eliminate or             
 reduce the tag fee stating his concern was getting rid of the tag,            
 itself.  Does the tag help track the take, or are their other uses            
 that the department uses, in terms of management of the tag, apart            
 from the fee?                                                                 
 Number 1379                                                                   
 MR. BRUCE answered that there are other means for gathering that              
 information.  If you are hunting with a guide, guides are required            
 to provide harvest information to the department.  We do not think            
 that we would lose through this measure our ability to collect the            
 information and track the harvest.                                            
 Number 1403                                                                   
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN wondered if legislation encouraging nonresidents            
 and nonresident aliens to come to Alaska and kill wolves could be             
 used against the state and generate bad publicity.                            
 Number 1430                                                                   
 MR. BRUCE explained that the bill, essentially, liberalizes hunting           
 regulations, it is still within the normal domain of hunting under            
 the fair chase principle.  It is consistent, in that respect, with            
 all the other general philosophy for managing the hunting activity.           
 It is not predator control in that sense, it is just simply a more            
 liberalized approach to hunting of this particular species.                   
 Number 1479                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN suggested that the bill is wildlife management,           
 as wildlife management is intended to be.                                     
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN subscribed to intensive game management where it            
 is necessary to preserve the game.                                            
 Number 1499                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE ALAN AUSTERMAN commented that he sees nothing wrong            
 with the bill and understands the intent.  He said that Kodiak                
 Island, also, had lean years and years of abundance, and that is a            
 management tool that the department can use whether the tag fee is            
 lowered or whether it is the bag limit, it is all part of how game            
 management is controlled.                                                     
 Number 1557                                                                   
 ANTHONY CRUPI, Volunteer, Alaska Environmental Lobby, related that            
 today's testimony had raised points that address why the lobby does           
 not support HB 313:                                                           
 "Number one, I believe there would definitely be a negative impact            
 on the tourist industry by something like this.  More importantly,            
 it appears inconceivable how, at a present period where we have               
 such cuts in our budget for the Department of Fish and Game that we           
 would pass legislation that would reduce the revenues to increase             
 predator control.  That just does not seem to be consistent with              
 what our feelings should be.                                                  
 MR. CRUPI, "I, also, believe that the Alaska Department of Fish and           
 Game, as well as the Board of Game, the supposed managers of our              
 wildlife, should be managing our wildlife.  They should retain that           
 authority to regulate our game and our predators.  I do not feel              
 that it is consistent with our legislature imposing acts to take              
 that authority from underneath them.                                          
 MR. CRUPI continued, "The influence of this bill reducing the                 
 variable by over 80 percent to increase the nonresident and                   
 nonresident aliens takings, does not do anything but decrease the             
 latitude of the Board of Game and the Department of Fish and Game             
 to manage the predators.                                                      
 Number 1642                                                                   
 MR. CRUPI stated, "I feel that by not requiring this wolf tag that            
 intensive game management, when it is under progress, it does not             
 lead to more biologically sound understanding of the wolf                     
 population or the game population.  I feel that we are losing                 
 information by not requiring this tag.                                        
 MR. CRUPI concluded, "In addition to decreased regulation, HB 313,            
 as we have said, is very inconsistent with proposed bill, HB 329              
 which as you know, puts the penalty value for a wolf at $500.00               
 whereas this puts the value of the wolf at $30.00.  I do not                  
 believe that even at $500.00, it adequately represents the wealth,            
 the worth and the benefit of a live, running, healthy wolf."                  
 Number 1680                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN asked Mr. Crupi if his last statement                
 meant that the state should not kill wolves, altogether.                      
 MR. CRUPI related that his point was that the $500 value is very              
 inconsistent with the $30.00 and $50.00 price put on the wolf in HB
 313.  His personal opinion is a wolf, as a predator, should be                
 valued even higher than $500.00, and he is very opposed to a $30.00           
 or $50.00 wolf.                                                               
 Number 1723                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN expressed an opinion that the wolf having a               
 negative impact on the tourist industry is a smoke screen.  He                
 referred to the budget cuts saying, "Right now, 10,000 nonresident            
 and nonresident aliens hunt in this state every year, 245 currently           
 buy wolf tags, and we believe that if half of those people picked             
 up tags, it could generate $200,000 for the state.  Currently, the            
 tag sales generate about $50,000."                                            
 Number 1796                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE OGAN said, "For your information, we delegate, we              
 the legislature, delegates the authority to the Department of Fish            
 and Game and the Board of Game to manage wildlife.  We would not be           
 undermining their authority because we give it to them.  So,                  
 ultimately, it is the legislature's authority to manage this                  
 wildlife and we have chosen to delegate it to those people.  So, we           
 are not taking any authority away because we give the authority.              
 You need to understand that."                                                 
 CO-CHAIRMAN GREEN asked the wish of the committee.                            
 Number 1811                                                                   
 REPRESENTATIVE AUSTERMAN moved that CSHB 313 (RES) move from the              
 House Resources Committee with individual recommendations and the             
 accompanying fiscal note.  Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.           

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