Legislature(1993 - 1994)

03/08/1993 09:20 AM FIN

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
  CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 43(RES):                                              
       An  Act  establishing  a  grant  program   relating  to                 
       transplantation of elk; and  providing for an effective                 
  C0-CHAIR DRUE PEARCE announced that  CSSB 43(RES) was before                 
  the committee and  invited Senator Robin Taylor,  sponsor of                 
  the bill, to join the committee at  the table.  A work draft                 
  dated  March  3, 1993  was  distributed for  the committee's                 
  SENATOR STEVE RIEGER MOVED for adoption  of the CSSB 43 work                 
  draft  dated  March 3,  1993.    No  objections having  been                 
  raised,  the  CSSB 43  work draft  dated  March 3,  1993 was                 
  SENATOR ROBIN  TAYLOR asked  the committee  to consider  the                 
  work draft in  lieu of the original bill.  He said he feared                 
  that the Department of Fish &  Game (DF&G) would not perform                 
  a follow up on  the previously successful transplant  of elk                 
  as specified in the original bill.  He said since the recent                 
  transplant  in 1987, or  as long ago  as 1927, when  elk had                 
  been  transplanted to Afognak Island,  that DF&G had made no                 
  effort to  study the  effect of  elk on  indigenous species.                 
  Even though studies have not been done, DF&G still maintains                 
  that a study  is needed to  determine if competition  exists                 
  between  elk  and other  deer families.    He felt  DF&G had                 
  already reached the conclusion that elk and deer compete for                 
  the  same  food.   He  maintained  that  DF&G  felt the  elk                 
  transplant would  fail and it  had not.   He wanted  DF&G to                 
  start  managing the  existing elk  population and  determine                 
  when the first hunt  might be sustained.  He  suggested that                 
  the elk could provide a source of food for the residents  of                 
  southeast Alaska, and  could cut  trails through which  deer                 
  and other game could  pass.  He maintained that deer and elk                 
  seemed to  be able to  co-exist quite  well.  CSSB  43 would                 
  make it mandatory for DF&G to transplant a certain number of                 
  elk on  Kruzof Island, Gravina Island,  Cleveland Peninsula,                 
  and Prince of  Wales Island in  a specified period of  time.                 
  He estimated  that it  would cost  approximately $1,000  per                 
  Senator  Taylor  passed  to the  committee  photographs  and                 
  showed a video  of existing transplanted  elk.  He  informed                 
  the committee  that in  1987, of  the  52 elk  transplanted,                 
  approximately  half  survived.   He  estimated that  the elk                 
  population today is approximately 100 to 120 animals.                        
  SENATOR JAY KERTTULA pointed out that  CSSB 43 called for an                 
  appropriation  but  asked  if  there  would  be  any  public                 
  contribution.  Senator Taylor maintained that there would be                 
  a  significant local  contribution and  effort, even  though                 
  CSSB  43  did not  contain  the  50 percent  match  or grant                 
  language of  the original bill.   Senator Kerttula  asked if                 
  there was any  additional cost other than  the handling cost                 
  of $1,000 per  animal.  Senator  Taylor said that the  state                 
  may have to  exchange goats for the  elk as was done  in the                 
  past transplant but  that $1,000  per animal should  include                 
  veterinarian costs, crates, etc.                                             
  SENATOR TIM KELLY asked for clarification on the cost of the                 
  transplant of the elk and asked if the state was funding the                 
  transplant at  100 percent.   Senator  Taylor  said that  he                 
  would    appropriate any  additional  funding needed  out of                 
  discretionary  funds to  complete  the transplant.   Senator                 
  Taylor  explained that  if the state  had to fund  it at 100                 
  percent   it   would  not   happen.     He   projected  that                 
  approximately  50 percent  of the  cost would  be  funded by                 
  volunteer  labor and  contributions as  it had  in the  last                 
  DARSIE BECK, Alaska Environmental Lobby, spoke in opposition                 
  to CSSB  43, on  the grounds  that transplanting  elk was  a                 
  biological threat, and that the economic costs and potential                 
  impact on subsistence users far outweighed any benefits.  He                 
  said  introduction of  foreign  species  into  a  eco-system                 
  frequently   have   disastrous   ecological   and   economic                 
  consequences.   He offered  examples in  other parts  of the                 
  world of  the damage it has  caused.  He said  that wildlife                 
  biologists they have talked to do not endorse  CSSB 43.  The                 
  greatest threat seems to  be the spread of disease  to other                 
  wild animals  and humans.   He said that  transplant figures                 
  from DF&G  showed that  the cost  per elk  was  $5,000.   He                 
  called the  committee's attention to  page 2  of the  fiscal                 
  note for DF&G  that said "costs for  a five year program  to                 
  accomplish the above goals would range from $200.0 to $250.0                 
  per  year."   The  Alaska  Environmental Lobby  suggested it                 
  would be  less expensive for the state of Alaska to fund elk                 
  hunting  trips  for individuals  outside  the state  than to                 
  transplant elk.                                                              
  Discussion followed between Senators Kerttula, Kelly, Taylor                 
  and Mr. Beck regarding various diseases, their transmission,                 
  and whether elk were indigenous to Alaska.                                   
  SENATOR BERT  SHARP MOVED for  passage of CSSB  43(FIN) from                 
  committee with the accompanying fiscal  note.  No objections                 
  having  been  raised,  CSSB  43(FIN)  was  REPORTED  OUT  of                 
  committee with a zero fiscal note for the Department of Fish                 
  & Game.   Co-chairs Pearce, Frank, and  Senator Sharp signed                 
  the  committee  report  with  a  "do  pass"  recommendation.                 
  Senators  Kerttula,  Kelly, Jacko  and  Rieger signed  a "no                 
                          Recess 9:35am                                        
                        Reconvene 9:37am                                       

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