Legislature(1999 - 2000)

03/15/1999 01:35 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
HB 114 - REPEAL PROHIBITION ANTLERLESS MOOSE                                                                                    
Number 0080                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR OGAN announced the first order of business would be House                                                              
Bill No. 114, "An Act repealing the prohibition against the taking                                                              
of antlerless moose."                                                                                                           
Number 0120                                                                                                                     
EDDIE GRASSER, Legislative Assistant to Representative Beverly                                                                  
Masek, Alaska State Legislature, came forward at the sponsor's                                                                  
request.  He explained that HB 114 would repeal the statute                                                                     
relating to antlerless moose hunts.  In effect since 1975, with                                                                 
rare exceptions the statute is nonfunctional; there have only been                                                              
a few instances in which advisory committees stopped an antlerless                                                              
moose hunt that had been presented to the Board of Game.                                                                        
MR. GRASSER described the current process.  The Alaska Department                                                               
of Fish and Game (ADF&G) goes to areas where it is proposing                                                                    
antlerless hunts, or where there are ongoing antlerless hunts;                                                                  
rounds up the advisory committees for a vote; then brings that                                                                  
before the Board of Game, which determines whether it will allow                                                                
the hunt to continue.  This bill would repeal that process,                                                                     
returning regulation of antlerless hunts to the same format as for                                                              
all other proposed regulations that come before the board:  the                                                                 
advisory committee would be just that, advisory, on each and every                                                              
regulation.  Noting that he had served on the Board of Game for a                                                               
few  years, Mr. Grasser expressed belief that HB 114 will save a                                                                
lot of time, because the board rubber-stamps these hunts yearly; it                                                             
will also save the state some money.                                                                                            
Number 0299                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked whether approval of the advisory committees now                                                             
must be unanimous.                                                                                                              
MR. GRASSER said it must be a majority of the advisory committees                                                               
in the affected area.                                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked whether, to Mr. Grasser's knowledge, a request                                                              
by the board to get a majority of the advisory committees has ever                                                              
been denied.                                                                                                                    
MR. GRASSER said yes, there have been a couple of antlerless hunts                                                              
where they did not get a full majority of the advisory committees,                                                              
but those have been rare occasions.                                                                                             
Number 0374                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked whether Mr. Grasser recalls what the problem                                                                
was with those particular hunts.                                                                                                
MR. GRASSER responded that part of the problem is that many                                                                     
Alaskans, for personal rather than biological reasons, oppose                                                                   
antlerless moose hunts.  In addition, many "old-timers" believe                                                                 
these hunts are a bad idea.  It took a huge educational process by                                                              
the ADF&G to initiate them in the first place.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked why Mr. Grasser believes antlerless moose hunts                                                             
are a good idea.                                                                                                                
MR. GRASSER suggested the ADF&G could answer better, because he is                                                              
not a biologist, then stated, "In any population of wildlife, and                                                               
what they've found in deer populations is that once you reach a                                                                 
certain population level, there's always going to be a few extra                                                                
animals around.  And the older cows, especially - unfortunately,                                                                
probably most people can't identify those - but if you take so many                                                             
cows out of that population, you can maintain a stable population,                                                              
because the younger moose will have a chance at browse.  And the                                                                
whole goal is to maintain a certain ratio of bulls-to-cows in a                                                                 
population.  Sometimes the bull-cow ratio gets out of kilter and                                                                
you have too many cows for bulls. ... Again, I think the department                                                             
can answer this better than I, but if you have too many                                                                         
cows-per-bulls, not all the cows are going to have calves the next                                                              
Number 0571                                                                                                                     
WAYNE REGELIN, Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska                                                              
Department of Fish and Game, told members the ADF&G supports HB
114, which would repeal the statute requiring annual approval of                                                                
the local advisory committees before cow moose hunts can be                                                                     
authorized by the Board of Game.  This law, enacted in 1975 to                                                                  
prevent overharvest of cow moose, followed some rather big cow                                                                  
moose hunts and subsequent severe winters; populations in areas had                                                             
dropped, causing many people to adamantly oppose cow moose hunts,                                                               
and some of that attitude continues today.                                                                                      
MR. REGELIN said the ADF&G has had over 20 years' experience with                                                               
practical management and research since then; they have a much                                                                  
better understanding of moose biology and how to manage the                                                                     
populations, with real advances in the ability to inventory and                                                                 
census the moose populations.  There is little chance of                                                                        
overharvest now, and advisory committee approval before taking cow                                                              
moose is no longer necessary for sound management.  Rather than                                                                 
annually reauthorizing these hunts throughout the state, it would                                                               
be much more efficient to make changes to a cow moose hunt if the                                                               
situation warrants.  "And we would certainly bring that to the                                                                  
attention of the board, if need be, and the local advisory                                                                      
committee," Mr. Regelin stated.  "We'd work with them closely, but                                                              
they could also bring this to the board, and we could make changes                                                              
that are necessary."  He said it would certainly remove a burden                                                                
from the ADF&G, the Board of Game and the advisory committees of                                                                
having to go through this year after year.                                                                                      
MR. REGELIN pointed out that the board is on a two-year cycle,                                                                  
moving from Southeast to Southcentral, to the Interior, and then to                                                             
Northwest Alaska; although the ADF&G is not considering regulations                                                             
throughout the state, they still must reauthorize all the cow moose                                                             
hunts.  He said HB 114 would also prevent occurrences where                                                                     
advisory committees, for one reason or another, are unable to meet                                                              
and therefore cannot take action; in those situations, the Board of                                                             
Game is unable to allow a cow moose hunt that year.  He concluded                                                               
that HB 114 is a step forward in management of Alaska's moose                                                                   
populations.  The ADF&G estimates it would save about $9,000 and a                                                              
lot of time on the board that could be put into other efforts.                                                                  
Number 0861                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked about the reference in committee packets to                                                                 
Bobby v. Alaska.                                                                                                                
MR. REGELIN said he hadn't seen that.                                                                                           
Number 0926                                                                                                                     
DAVID KELLEYHOUSE, Alaska Outdoor Council, came forward to testify,                                                             
noting that he had previously served as director of the Division of                                                             
Wildlife Conservation for four years and as a field biologist for                                                               
sixteen years.  He agreed that the statute was unnecessary in the                                                               
first place, a misreading of severe winters of the early 1970s that                                                             
caused dramatic declines in moose populations statewide; many                                                                   
people erroneously believed that it was the result of hunting cow                                                               
moose.  In his area, the Forty Mile area, only 150 cow moose have                                                               
been taken, yet the population has declined from about 10,000 to                                                                
about 2,500 animals.  He said although that wasn't a                                                                            
cause-and-effect relationship, the state has labored under AS                                                                   
16.05.780 ever since.                                                                                                           
MR. KELLEYHOUSE said at one time he figured AS 16.05.780 probably                                                               
cost the departments about $50,000 per year, which could be better                                                              
applied to active wildlife management programs and some real                                                                    
problems.  While he was director, the Galena and Middle Yukon                                                                   
advisory committees had failed to meet in order to vote on whether                                                              
to continue a cow moose hunt; it had taken a great deal of                                                                      
telephoning of Board of Game members to get that hunt restored.                                                                 
MR. KELLEYHOUSE pointed out that in Alaska one can hunt female                                                                  
black bears, brown bears, mountain goats, sheep and caribou,                                                                    
without this kind of requirement of public involvement.  He said                                                                
moose are physiologically more productive than any of those,                                                                    
capable of having twin calves every year.  Consequently, he                                                                     
believes this statute was never needed in the first place, and it                                                               
certainly isn't needed now that the state is facing some fiscal                                                                 
Number 1168                                                                                                                     
HOLLY CARROLL came forward, specifying that she lives in Fairbanks;                                                             
a zoologist and animal ecologist, she was testifying on her own                                                                 
behalf as a resident of the Interior.  Ms. Carroll agreed that it                                                               
is hard to tell the difference between an old female moose and a                                                                
young one.  When antlerless moose walk through her neighborhood,                                                                
she sometimes can't tell whether they are yearlings, males or                                                                   
females.  If shooting of antlerless moose is opened up, hunters                                                                 
could kill either females or two-year-old moose, for example, but                                                               
any long-term damage from killing perhaps 150 to 200 more females                                                               
per year may not be clear for a few years.  If population effects                                                               
do happen, a study will likely be necessary; Ms. Carroll requested                                                              
that such a study be completed before repealing the statute, to                                                                 
determine how many females or two-year-old calves we can afford to                                                              
lose.  She pointed out that not every female moose has twins, and                                                               
the survival rate isn't superb.  She closed by again requesting                                                                 
that the legislature investigate before repealing this statute,                                                                 
which was put there for a reason.                                                                                               
Number 1284                                                                                                                     
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked whether Mr. Regelin wanted to comment,                                                                      
suggesting that the ADF&G wouldn't have made a recommendation                                                                   
unless it had scientific data to support it.  He said he is                                                                     
comfortable personally with the job the ADF&G does managing moose.                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES agreed that before a season is opened up,                                                                 
there is biological data available in the ADF&G for the board to                                                                
base its decisions upon.                                                                                                        
Number 1361                                                                                                                     
MS. CARROLL expressed concern that although there may be biological                                                             
data for one year, she hasn't seen five-year or six-year                                                                        
projections that say the population could sustain that kind of                                                                  
hunting every season; she would like to see something like that.                                                                
She noted that her father is a hunter and she is for hunting.  Ms.                                                              
Carroll added that she also wants to ensure that road kills are                                                                 
being considered.                                                                                                               
MR. REGELIN responded that the ADF&G doesn't make five-year or                                                                  
six-year projections about the harvest.  They collect data annually                                                             
or biannually on moose populations, and they do surveys each year,                                                              
or every other year, depending on the status of the population.                                                                 
They therefore have current data that they review, and if changes                                                               
are necessary, they take those to the Board of Game.  Those data                                                                
are also made available to advisory committees, if they want to                                                                 
take proposals to the Board of Game.  The regulations are reviewed                                                              
on a two-year cycle throughout the state.                                                                                       
Number 1490                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE WHITAKER asked Mr. Regelin, "You're confident that                                                               
your science is valid to withstand the question raised by the young                                                             
MR. REGELIN replied, "Absolutely."                                                                                              
CO-CHAIR OGAN asked whether there were other testifiers; none came                                                              
Number 1513                                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BARNES made a motion to move HB 114 from the                                                                     
committee with individual recommendations and the attached fiscal                                                               
note; she asked unanimous consent.  There being no objection, HB
114 moved from the House Resources Standing Committee.                                                                          

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