Legislature(2001 - 2002)

03/15/2002 03:32 PM RES

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
             SB 205-CONTROL OF NUISANCE WILD ANIMALS                                                                        
CHAIRMAN JOHN TORGERSON called the Senate Resources Committee                                                                 
meeting to order at 3:32 p.m. and announced SB 205 to be up for                                                                 
MS. JANEY  WINEINGER, staff to  Senator Green, sponsor,  explained                                                              
that  this  legislation  would provide  authority  to  the  Alaska                                                              
Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G)  to issue permits and licenses                                                              
for the control of nuisance wild  birds and other mammals. Senator                                                              
Green fully  supports the proposed  committee substitute  (CS) and                                                              
amendment.  This  legislation  would   provide  for  licenses  for                                                              
commercial    exterminators    and   permits    for    homeowners,                                                              
corporations, agricultural enterprises  and other entities who are                                                              
plagued  by  nuisance  wildlife.  It would  also  allow  ADF&G  to                                                              
collect bivalves for  use in connection with aquatic  farms and to                                                              
collect wild  fur animals  for the  improvement of genetic  stock.                                                              
Sometimes  senior citizens  or others  want to  control pests  but                                                              
want  to hire someone  else  to do the  job. This  bill gives  the                                                              
authority to ADF&G to issue permits or licenses for such work.                                                                  
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON  asked for examples of nuisance  wild birds and                                                              
nuisance small mammals.                                                                                                         
MR. ROBERT DORAN,  Wasilla resident, said that he  supports SB 205                                                              
because it  gives ADF&G the authority  he believes it  should have                                                              
had from  the time the department  was established  to effectively                                                              
manage wildlife  in Alaska.  It also  provides an opportunity  for                                                              
those wishing to pursue a career  in animal damage control, a fast                                                              
growing business in  the Lower 48. Based on population  growth and                                                              
development in  Alaska, he sees a  real need for this  service. As                                                              
an  example,  Mr.  Doran  said  that  beavers  construct  dams  in                                                              
culverts,  which has resulted  in flooded  rights-of-way.  He told                                                              
     In  no way  whatsoever do  I  wish to  give anybody  the                                                                   
     impression  that I simply desire  free reign  to capture                                                                   
     anything  and  everything  365   days  a  year.  My  own                                                                   
     personal business  would be conducted based  on specific                                                                   
     requests of  companies, etc. who for whatever  reason do                                                                   
     not wish to deal with conflicts  involving wild animals.                                                                   
     Again,  these  conflicts  range  from  property  damage,                                                                   
     possible  threats to  public health  and safety or  even                                                                   
     cases in  which a bird  or animal becomes  inadvertently                                                                   
     caught in a structure or within a confined area.                                                                           
MR. WAYNE  REGELIN, Director,  Division of Wildlife  Conservation,                                                              
Alaska Department  of Fish and Game, said the  department supports                                                              
this legislation.  It provides ADF&G with the  statutory authority                                                              
to provide  a license to  a person for  a commercial  operation to                                                              
take  care  of nuisance  wildlife  or  to  issue  a permit  to  an                                                              
individual  or another  agency to  control  nuisance wildlife.  He                                                              
     It corrects  a deficiency in our permit  system, because                                                                   
     right now we  can't issue a permit for this  purpose. We                                                                   
     can for  science or education  or public safety,  but we                                                                   
     are prohibited  from doing it  and there [are]  not many                                                                   
     loopholes for  us to do it  where wildlife is  causing a                                                                   
     real problem  for some people.  We like the idea  that a                                                                   
     person that might  need some help doing this  that's old                                                                   
     or  just  doesn't want  to  do  it themselves  can  hire                                                                   
     someone  to do it.  Maybe someone can  make a living  or                                                                   
     supplement their income at least.                                                                                          
He said he was  referring to small animals, birds  and porcupines,                                                              
beaver, squirrels in attics and that  type of thing. The effective                                                              
date would  allow the  Board of Game  time to provide  definitions                                                              
and guidance. He  said the proposed amendment will  allow ADF&G to                                                              
give  the  Department  of  Transportation  and  Public  Facilities                                                              
(DOTPF) a blanket permit for a season  or area if it has continual                                                              
problems  that ADF&G  can't resolve.  He remarked,  "I think  it's                                                              
probably wise to keep wildlife permits  under the purview of ADF&G                                                              
and work real closely with DOT on  where they need [to use them.]"                                                              
3:45 p.m.                                                                                                                     
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON  said he has heard  that DOTPF is tired  of the                                                              
bureaucratic  tangle it  has to  go through  now to  take care  of                                                              
damage caused  by beavers alongside  the road "that ADF&G  has put                                                              
on them."                                                                                                                       
SENATOR ELTON asked how the process works now.                                                                                  
MR. REGELIN  replied that  many people take  care of  the problems                                                              
themselves, but  a lot of them  call ADF&G and ask  for permission                                                              
to get  rid of nuisance animals.  ADF&G can't give  permission (to                                                              
kill a squirrel, for instance) and  has to send a biologist out to                                                              
do it.                                                                                                                          
SENATOR ELTON  said this  bill didn't  seem to  take care  of that                                                              
problem. He  questioned, "This authorizes  somebody to do  it, but                                                              
who authorizes the act in the first place?"                                                                                     
MR. REGELIN replied  that ADF&G usually sends a  biologist to take                                                              
care of the problem;  this bill would allow ADF&G  to call someone                                                              
with a license  to take care of  it. He explained, "We  don't have                                                              
to get involved  and they probably  have to pay a couple  of bucks                                                              
and the squirrel or bat or whatever it is is out of their life."                                                                
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON asked, for the  purpose of clarification, if he                                                              
could  call  the  commercial  guy  directly  to  shoot  a  problem                                                              
squirrel or would he have to apply  for a permit at ADF&G and then                                                              
hire the guy to do it.                                                                                                          
MR. REGELIN replied that ADF&G's intent is:                                                                                     
     The person that has the license  to do this commercially                                                                   
     would have  broad authority  to do it within  guidelines                                                                   
     that we provide so we won't  have to be in the equation.                                                                   
     You would just call the person…                                                                                            
He  said  that  this  would  probably  only  happen  in  the  more                                                              
populated areas.                                                                                                                
SENATOR ELTON continued to try and clarify and said:                                                                            
     I guess what I'm hearing is  you can pop a porcupine any                                                                   
     time you want.  The only issue that this  bill addresses                                                                   
     is who pops the porcupine.                                                                                                 
MR. REGELIN replied,  "Right now there is no season  or bag limits                                                              
on porcupines and you're not supposed  to shoot them. You only let                                                              
people shoot them if they're causing a real problem…"                                                                           
SENATOR  ELTON said,  "It allows  a private individual  to  make a                                                              
decision on whether  you take out the porcupine,  whether you move                                                              
the porcupine, so the department wouldn't make that."                                                                           
MR. REGELIN said  that an individual can hire a person  or come to                                                              
ADF&G for  a permit. If  the individual  asks for a  permit, ADF&G                                                              
will provide advice. The department  does not want to kill animals                                                              
unnecessarily. He added:                                                                                                        
     But an individual  has to call us and say  I've got this                                                                   
     problem;  how can  I fix  it? And  then we  give them  a                                                                   
     permit  to do it.  The people  who are  in this to  earn                                                                   
     money,  we would give  them some  broad authorities  and                                                                   
     work closely  with to make sure  they could do  this and                                                                   
     we  would urge  them - like  with porcupines  - you  can                                                                   
     usually move them a ways down  the road and be done with                                                                   
     it.  Beavers -  you usually  have to  kill them.  That's                                                                   
     part  of the reason  to keep  the department  in it.  It                                                                   
     becomes an issue  of what do you do with  the animal and                                                                   
     the fur.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  ELTON asked  if a definition  of small  mammals would  be                                                              
included in the regulations and whether it would include wolves.                                                                
MR. REGELIN replied  that ADF&G will make sure  it doesn't include                                                              
wolves and coyotes,  because that gets into a  different arena. He                                                              
said he is reluctant to list all  the species because one could be                                                              
inadvertently forgotten.  The definition could say,  "species like                                                              
squirrels" or "nothing bigger than a beaver."                                                                                   
SENATOR WILKEN moved to adopt the  committee substitute to SB 205,                                                              
(Utermohle, 3/14/02,  Version C). There were no  objections and it                                                              
was so ordered.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  WILKEN  moved  to  adopt  amendment  1,  which  reads  as                                                              
MR. FRANK  RICHARDS, an engineer  at DOTPF, informed  members that                                                              
articles  in the Daily  News Miner  said that  road crews  spend a                                                              
considerable amount of time in the  summer and fall taking care of                                                              
culverts  that are  blocked by  mammals.  This is  a big  concern,                                                              
because  when  beavers  block  culverts,   water  dams  up  allows                                                              
infiltration,  ice growth  and degradation  of the embankment  and                                                              
the surface.                                                                                                                    
DOTPF  supports  the amendment  but  is concerned  about  granting                                                              
authority  to  the commissioner  for  the  control and  taking  of                                                              
beavers only. In state-owned airports,  DOTPF has fairly extensive                                                              
hazing programs  for wildlife, primarily  birds. He said,  "I hope                                                              
this bill would  not prevent us from continuing  with our wildlife                                                              
hazing programs,  because that  is a major  safety concern  to the                                                              
FAA and the department as an airport operator."                                                                                 
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON noted that Mr.  Regelin said DOTPF doesn't need                                                              
this amendment;  it can  just get  a blanket  permit. He  asked if                                                              
that  is how  it would  work or  whether the  committee should  go                                                              
forward with the amendment.                                                                                                     
MR.  RICHARDS  responded  that  currently  DOTPF  gets  individual                                                              
permits, including permits for the  airports. DOTPF must first get                                                              
a  federal permit  for  airport work  before  it can  get a  state                                                              
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON asked  Mr.  Regelin if  this  will affect  the                                                              
airport bird situation.                                                                                                         
MR.  REGELIN replied  that the  way the  bill is  now it  wouldn't                                                              
affect  airports. He  explained, "As  soon as  they get a  federal                                                              
permit, we  issue one.  We have the  authority to  do that  now in                                                              
Public Safety and we do it in each airport."                                                                                    
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON  asked how  ADF&G  could raise  Mr.  Richards'                                                              
comfort  level  about being  able  to  handle the  beaver  problem                                                              
without going through what DOTPF had to before.                                                                                 
MR.  REGELIN  replied  that  now   ADF&G  sort  of  stretches  its                                                              
authority on beaver. It doesn't have  authority but issues permits                                                              
because of the public safety issue with flooding. He noted:                                                                     
     This  gives us  the authority  we  need and  now we  can                                                                   
     issue by region or by however  you want it organized and                                                                   
     do it  one-year at a time.  I don't think  they're going                                                                   
     to abuse it  and if he sends me a letter  asking for it,                                                                   
     we'll issue him a permit.                                                                                                  
MR.  RICHARDS said  DOTPF's  working  relationship  with ADF&G  on                                                              
permits  is good.  He stated,  "As  he indicated  for the  federal                                                              
permits for the airports it is pretty much a rubber stamp."                                                                     
He stated  if DOTPF can  easily get a permit,  whether it be  on a                                                              
yearly   basis  or   for  individual   actions,   that  would   be                                                              
satisfactory for beaver control.                                                                                                
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON   asked  if  the  committee   should  consider                                                              
changing the  language to authorize  the commissioner of  ADF&G to                                                              
issue  the commissioner  of Transportation  and Public  Facilities                                                              
the right to take beavers that interfere with culverts.                                                                         
MR. REGELIN  replied that  would be fine  and, "That way  when I'm                                                              
gone, it still happens."                                                                                                        
SENATOR  THERRIAULT said  one of  his concerns  is that often  the                                                              
Fairbanks person who  would issue the permit in ADF&G  is out on a                                                              
field trip for a week. He explained:                                                                                            
     It's just  near impossible.  When you're trying  to deal                                                                   
     with this in  the fall before freezing, before  the dams                                                                   
     are frozen  in the culverts,  you have a limited  window                                                                   
     of time.                                                                                                                   
He also expressed concern about getting a carcass to ADF&G.                                                                     
MR.  REGELIN  said they  could  do it  region  by region,  but  he                                                              
worries about having  a permit that will say to  bring the carcass                                                              
to ADF&G if possible. He clarified:                                                                                             
     I  think we  all  need to  be  very cautious  about  the                                                                   
     wanton  waste of wildlife  and just  killing beaver  and                                                                   
     not using  the fur  and some people  like the meat.  You                                                                   
     know, sometimes  you just can't do it. So,  we would ask                                                                   
     them to do that if it was possible….                                                                                       
     Part  of the  reason  we've done  it  on a  case-by-case                                                                   
     basis through  the area biologist  is because  we didn't                                                                   
     have  the blanket  authority. We'll  issue these out  of                                                                   
     the Juneau office just to DOT.                                                                                             
CHAIRMAN TORGERSON asked, "Fish and  Game may issue yearly permits                                                              
and then go on with authorizing the commissioner of DOT…"                                                                       
SENATOR  THERRIAULT  said  that  would  be a  step  in  the  right                                                              
direction, but he is still concerned.  He related how he has tried                                                              
to find people to  give beaver meat and pelts to,  but the problem                                                              
is if you get  the beavers before the dams freeze  up, the pelt is                                                              
not  in a  usable condition.  You have  to find  a trapper  that's                                                              
willing to  take the  animal, freeze  it and  use the carcass  for                                                              
other  trapping  purposes,  but  that's  limited  too,  because  a                                                              
trapper needs the freezer capacity to do that. He said:                                                                         
     What  you end up  with is  DOT personnel  standing in  a                                                                   
     five-foot  culvert pulling  the brush  out knowing  full                                                                   
     well  that the  beaver will  be back that  night and  it                                                                   
     will be even fuller the next day.                                                                                          
MR. RICHARDS commented, in regard  to wanton waste, when DOTPF has                                                              
received  permits from  ADF&G, it  would do the  trapping or  have                                                              
someone do  it for them.  DOTPF has been  able to provide  for the                                                              
disposal of  the pelts.  Senator Therriault's  concern would  be a                                                              
problem  in  rural  areas.  It  would  then be  a  burden  on  the                                                              
department to have  to bring a carcass back to  a central location                                                              
for disposal.                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  ELTON said  he was  still  struggling with  the issue  of                                                              
having a permit, but getting the  authority from the department to                                                              
do it. He explained:                                                                                                            
     We're  focusing   now  on   giving  the  Department   of                                                                   
     Transportation the  ability to do this when  it seems to                                                                   
     me  if we  create  a system  like  this,  why should  we                                                                   
     expect the department to do  it. Why shouldn't we expect                                                                   
     them to act  like any other private landowner  - pick up                                                                   
     the phone  and call  somebody that's  licensed to  do it                                                                   
     and have them do it.                                                                                                       
MR. RICHARDS  responded that in  certain locations DOTPF  can hire                                                              
others to come in and take the animal under their permit.                                                                       
CHAIRMAN  TORGERSON said  he wanted  to  hold this  bill with  the                                                              
amendment pending to provide more time to work on the language.                                                                 

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