Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

02/02/2010 08:00 AM House COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
Moved CSHB 276(CRA) Out of Committee
         HB 281-BOARD OF GAME/FISH & GAME COMMISSIONER                                                                      
8:06:06 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON announced that the  first order of business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO.  281, "An  Act relating to  the duties  of the                                                               
commissioner of  fish and game and  to the interest of  the Board                                                               
of Game in public safety as it relates to game."                                                                                
8:06:22 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT, Alaska  State  Legislature, speaking  as                                                               
the prime sponsor,  explained that HB 281 would  change the focus                                                               
of  the Alaska  Department of  Fish &  Game's (ADF&G)  management                                                               
style  in urban  Alaska to  focus first  on public  safety versus                                                               
abundance.   She related that  one of  the main issues  she hears                                                               
about from constituents  is the abundance of bears  and the human                                                               
contact with  them.  She  related her own experiences  with bears                                                               
in the  community and  specified that the  bears about  which she                                                               
speaks  are urbanized  bears, that  is bears  that are  third and                                                               
fourth generation bears  in the city.  These  urbanized bears act                                                               
differently  than they  would in  the wild  and aren't  afraid of                                                               
humans.  The aforementioned creates  a dangerous situation.  With                                                               
the  proposed change  in the  legislation,  the Anchorage  Police                                                               
Department (APD)  would be allowed  to take  action if a  bear is                                                               
deemed  a threat.   Although  the aforementioned  is already  the                                                               
case, there is a Memorandum  of Understanding (MOU) between ADF&G                                                               
and APD that  ADF&G would like for APD to  call ADF&G and apprise                                                               
it  of the  situation.   Representative  Millet, however,  didn't                                                               
believe there  is too much to  discuss when the situation  is one                                                               
in  which   the  bear  is   socialized  and  hanging  out   in  a                                                               
neighborhood.   Although she acknowledged  that residents  have a                                                               
responsibility to take  better care [with their  garbage and bird                                                               
feeders], she  opined that the  bears are conditioned to  a point                                                               
that the bear and human interactions will continue.                                                                             
8:10:47 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER related  her  understanding  that HB  281                                                               
effectively only  applies to  Anchorage.   She questioned  why it                                                               
wouldn't apply statewide if it's good policy.                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT, as  a  legislator  from Anchorage,  said                                                               
that she  is open to  other communities joining this  charge, but                                                               
wasn't familiar enough with other communities to include them.                                                                  
8:11:42 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT,  in response to Co-Chair  Munoz, informed                                                               
the committee  that currently  there are  two ADF&G  officers who                                                               
work in the  Municipality of Anchorage (MOA).   She recalled when                                                               
she couldn't  get in  her truck because  bears were  circling it.                                                               
When she  called APD, APD  told her  they don't respond  to bears                                                               
unless they are  aggressive or it's an emergency  situation.  The                                                               
APD then  offered to notify  ADF&G.  Therefore, changing  the MOU                                                               
between ADF&G and  APD in statute such that APD  can respond will                                                               
result in a much different response, she opined.                                                                                
8:13:32 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ  asked if  the communities  in the  Anchorage area                                                               
have addressed the issue of containing personal garbage.                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT answered  that although  the municipality                                                               
hasn't  addressed the  aforementioned, some  working groups  have                                                               
worked  with  Waste Management  on  bear  containers for  various                                                               
areas in MOA.   However, the only municipal  ordinance related to                                                               
garbage collection is that garbage  can't be out until 6:00 a.m.,                                                               
the morning of  the collection day.  She  characterized Juneau as                                                               
a great example  as it very aggressively made  adjustments in the                                                               
municipal code  to [address the  bear situation].  However,  in a                                                               
town of 360,000  it's a different dynamic when  trying to address                                                               
something through the municipality.   While Representative Millet                                                               
agreed  that  MOA  should  be more  aggressive  [with  regard  to                                                               
addressing the  matter in  municipal code],  she opined  that the                                                               
matter should be addressed now before anyone else is mauled.                                                                    
8:15:07 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ recalled that she  sat on the Juneau Assembly when                                                               
Juneau formulated  its ordinance  and she  characterized it  as a                                                               
difficult process that required  much community buy-in.  However,                                                               
she characterized  the ordinance  as an  important first  step in                                                               
addressing  the  problem and  opined  that  in order  to  achieve                                                               
effective change,  there has to  be a  change in behavior  in the                                                               
community.   Therefore, she expressed  her desire to  engage with                                                               
the Anchorage Assembly on this issue.                                                                                           
8:15:39 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA   directed  attention  to   the  following                                                               
language on  page 2, lines 2-4:   "the board shall  authorize the                                                           
police  department of  the  municipality to  take  game when  the                                                           
taking serves to protect human  life from immediate harm from the                                                           
game."   She  then  recalled  riding along  with  police who  are                                                           
having  difficulty  finding  enough  staff  to  address  domestic                                                               
violence.  She  opined that if the seeing of  bears is considered                                                               
immediate harm,  then a lot  of police  would be involved.   This                                                               
legislation seems  to continue the  current practice  and doesn't                                                               
seem to be anything new.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  clarified  that this  legislation  isn't                                                               
addressing  one   bear  account   in  the  summer;   rather  it's                                                               
addressing a situation  in which a sow and three  cubs are living                                                               
in a  residential backyard.   Furthermore, she opined that  a sow                                                               
and cubs can't  coexist with her lifestyle in urban  Alaska.  The                                                               
"immediate  danger" is  when the  bears  are born  and raised  in                                                           
urban settings and aren't afraid of humans.                                                                                     
8:19:48 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   HERRON  inquired   as   to  Representative   Millett's                                                               
understanding of the current priority related to public safety.                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  explained that the two  ADF&G officers in                                                               
Anchorage  are tasked  with being  responders  to wildlife  human                                                               
interaction.   In a large area  such as the MOA,  those two ADF&G                                                               
officers have a  tough job.  This legislation  merely removes the                                                               
restriction, included in  the MOU, requiring that  APD call ADF&G                                                               
prior to any  action with wildlife.   Therefore, this legislation                                                               
allows APD to use its discretion with cases involving wildlife.                                                                 
8:21:10 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  opined that  she wasn't sure  the passage                                                               
of HB  281 would've changed  the outcomes of the  situations that                                                               
Representative Millett described earlier.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT clarified that she  was merely one of many                                                               
phone  calls made  to  ADF&G  this past  summer  when parks  were                                                               
closed and  folks had to adjust  their lives to be  safe [because                                                               
bears   were  in   the  neighborhood].      While  awareness   is                                                               
appropriate,  when children  and  families are  afraid  to be  in                                                               
their  backyard  and  neighborhood,   the  balance  has  shifted.                                                               
Representative Millett emphasized that  she is seeking a sensible                                                               
solution and isn't  advocating having an open  hunt in Anchorage,                                                               
although the bears  are being managed for abundance,  as if there                                                               
is  an  open hunt.    She  reiterated  the  need for  a  sensible                                                               
solution  and  a way  in  which  to  have a  public  conversation                                                               
regarding  what is  public safety;  what is  an aggressive  bear;                                                               
what are  the appropriate actions.   As  it stands now,  the bear                                                               
population  is  growing  in urban  Alaska  and  this  legislation                                                               
offers a proactive approach by changing the management focus.                                                                   
8:24:11 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  opined that she wasn't  sure the proposed                                                               
language would've  allowed APD to  have responded  differently to                                                               
the  circumstances  described by  the  sponsor.   The  situations                                                               
described by the sponsor don't pose "immediate harm".                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT   said  that  she  would   entertain  any                                                               
suggestions to improve the legislation.                                                                                         
8:25:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER inquired  as to  what actions  the sponsor                                                               
would  envision   the  municipality   using  to   develop  policy                                                               
regulations and memorandums per HB 281.                                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT explained that  HB 281 would eliminate the                                                               
need  for a  MOU  and allow  APD to  use  its discretion  without                                                               
calling ADF&G.                                                                                                                  
8:26:15 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON asked if ADF&G  has population ratios of bears in                                                               
[the MOA].                                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  said  she  didn't  recall  any  specific                                                               
numbers  from  ADF&G.   However,  she  recalled conversations  in                                                               
which Rick  Sinnott, Wildlife Biologist, ADF&G,  relayed that the                                                               
encounters  are up  and  bear numbers  are  relatively the  same.                                                               
Therefore,  she  surmised  that   the  bears  are  becoming  more                                                               
urbanized and familiar with her neighborhood.                                                                                   
8:27:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA related  her  belief that  garbage is  the                                                               
problem, adding that there's a  similar problem with moose in her                                                               
neighborhood.    She questioned  whether  [the  subject] of  this                                                               
legislation  would be  more appropriate  for the  municipality to                                                               
address through its ordinances.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  opined   that   this  legislation   and                                                               
municipal  ordinances  could  go hand-in-hand.    However,  first                                                               
changing  ADF&G's management  for  abundance in  urban Alaska  to                                                               
manage  for  public  safety  would   provide  comfort  that  [the                                                               
department]  isn't  encouraging  this  species to  grow  in  MOA.                                                               
Representative Millett related that  managing wildlife for public                                                               
safety  means to  her  that there  will be  less  bears and  more                                                               
proactive responses  such that bears  that have settled  into the                                                               
community are  removed.  She did,  however, agree that this  is a                                                               
state issue  regarding management  of wildlife in  urban settings                                                               
and  is a  personal responsibility  as  well.   She restated  her                                                               
agreement that the municipality should  be more proactive on this                                                               
matter.   Still, management for abundance  assumes management for                                                               
hunting  or subsistence,  but wildlife  isn't taken  in Anchorage                                                               
for the aforementioned purposes.                                                                                                
8:29:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA asked if the  sponsor has evidence that APD                                                               
is thinking in terms of abundance.                                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE   MILLETT  clarified   that   ADF&G  manages   for                                                               
abundance, per statute.                                                                                                         
8:30:39 AM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER YUHAS, Legislative Liaison,  Alaska Department of Fish &                                                               
Game,  began  by  providing   the  committee  with  documentation                                                               
regarding  the  number  of  bear  maulings  in  Anchorage  and  a                                                               
breakdown  of the  department's concerns  with this  legislation.                                                               
Ms. Yuhas  informed the committee  that ADF&G agrees  that public                                                               
safety is a  primary concern in managing wildlife.   However, the                                                               
language in  the proposed legislation  is either  unnecessary, as                                                               
the authority  already exists, or poses  unintended consequences.                                                               
With regard to abundance, there  have been several misconceptions                                                               
at  public  meetings  regarding   the  meaning  of  managing  for                                                               
abundance.  The  state is divided into 26  game management units,                                                               
each of which  is managed for its individual  eco-system.  Still,                                                               
ADF&G  doesn't  manage  for  an   abundance  of  bears  in  urban                                                               
populations.  At  a meeting the sponsor held  in Anchorage, ADF&G                                                               
provided  testimony that  the bear  numbers  were relatively  the                                                               
same or a little bit lower in the Anchorage area.                                                                               
MS. YUHAS then identified the  major concern with the legislation                                                               
as  the  possibility of  a  significant  increase in  litigation.                                                               
Although  the sponsor  statement proposes  to address  bears, the                                                               
legislation  actually addresses  game.   However, there  are many                                                               
more  moose  encounters  and there  are  several  other  wildlife                                                               
issues.   Therefore, the  department questions  at what  point it                                                               
will be litigated  for not adhering to public  safety issues were                                                               
this change in  statute to occur.   Furthermore, this legislation                                                               
would  elevate  public safety  over  subsistence  as a  use  that                                                               
applies  statewide  for  the department's  management  practices.                                                               
Ms. Yuhas  explained that  each game  management unit  is managed                                                               
through public testimony, the advisory  committees, and the Board                                                               
of  Game process.   The  department  believes there  are ways  in                                                               
which  to  address  this  issue   other  than  this  legislation.                                                               
Therefore,  she expressed  the department's  desire to  work with                                                               
the sponsor  in developing tangible  solutions for  the Anchorage                                                               
area.  Ms. Yuhas then  expressed concern that the legislation has                                                               
a constitutional  conflict with the department's  sustained yield                                                               
principle management.   She pointed out that  the sustained yield                                                               
principle doesn't necessarily translate  to abundance.  Sustained                                                               
yield,  she explained,  is  similar  to a  bank  account in  that                                                               
there's the desire for interest to  be produced from which one is                                                               
able to  draw.   Therefore, under  the sustained  yield principle                                                               
there's the  desire to  have interest  of a  species that  can be                                                               
used.   In rural areas where  species are used as  a food source,                                                               
the interest  rate is high,  which is considered abundance.   The                                                               
department is not managing for an  abundance of bears in an urban                                                               
area.   She  then pointed  out  that HB  281 would  apply to  the                                                               
Municipality of  Anchorage as  well as  the Fairbanks  North Star                                                               
Borough and  likely the  Mat-Su Borough.   This  legislation, she                                                               
opined,  will  likely  open  debate  on  rural/urban  issues  and                                                               
whether residents in Barrow who  have polar bears walking through                                                               
their  community  deserve the  same  public  safety as  those  in                                                               
Anchorage.   Still,  the department  believes that  the authority                                                               
given already  provides the same  degree of public safety  to all                                                               
residents of  the state.   The department  expects to be  able to                                                               
work through its staff to  address those situations in which sows                                                               
are  camping  out  in  a   neighborhood,  especially  since  this                                                               
legislation wouldn't fix that.                                                                                                  
8:35:46 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ  inquired as to  any tangible solutions  Ms. Yuhas                                                               
may have.                                                                                                                       
MS.  YUHAS noted  that ADF&G  has  an ongoing  dialogue with  MOA                                                               
regarding  possible revisions  to the  MOU.   In fact,  last year                                                               
there was a  proposal to increase the number of  staff to address                                                               
urban bears.   However, that proposal didn't make  it through one                                                               
of  the [Finance  Subcommittees].   The department  has had  some                                                               
focus  groups  in  Anchorage  to discuss  some  of  the  sensible                                                               
solutions  and what  people would  characterize as  an aggressive                                                               
8:37:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HERRON asked  if the  Anchorage  Advisory Committee  is                                                               
basically the boundaries  of the municipality.   He then recalled                                                               
that Ms. Yuhas  had commented that "game"  includes many animals,                                                               
and inquired as  to the proper definition for  bears, wolves, and                                                               
coyotes if it replaced the term game in the legislation.                                                                        
MS.  YUHAS  confirmed  that   the  Anchorage  Advisory  Committee                                                               
represents basically the boundaries of  MOA.  In further response                                                               
to Co-Chair Herron,  she related that ADF&G  refers to predators,                                                               
large predators, and  fur bearers.  She said that  she would have                                                               
to  research her  definition on  "coyote" in  order to  determine                                                               
whether wolves,  coyotes, and bears  would be lumped  together in                                                               
one of the aforementioned categories.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR  HERRON  asked  if  the  department  has  thought  about                                                               
[what's proposed in HB 281] prior to this legislation.                                                                          
MS. YUHAS replied  no, adding that when a  predator population is                                                               
decreased an undulate  population is increased.   She pointed out                                                               
that moose in  Anchorage cause more traffic  accidents and attack                                                               
more humans [than  bears].  In fact, there is  a group that would                                                               
like to transport moose outside of Anchorage.                                                                                   
CO-CHAIR HERRON surmised  then that moose are  urbanized, and yet                                                               
they're  something   that  residents   like  to  have   in  their                                                               
community.     However,  he  questioned  whether   predators  are                                                               
different than moose.                                                                                                           
MS.  YUHAS  noted her  agreement  that  predators are  a  totally                                                               
different  class  of  animals  that   pose  a  different  set  of                                                               
problems.   The  original question,  she recalled,  was regarding                                                               
whether  ADF&G  had reviewed  managing  for  public safety  as  a                                                               
mandate  rather  than the  existing  practice  that takes  public                                                               
safety  into  consideration.   She  reiterated  concern over  the                                                               
unintended  consequences that  managing for  public safety  could                                                               
cause in the form of litigation.                                                                                                
8:40:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HERRON  inquired as  to  the  department's priority  as                                                               
related to public safety.                                                                                                       
MS.  YUHAS clarified  that  public  safety is  a  response not  a                                                               
management [practice].                                                                                                          
8:41:41 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   asked  if  ADF&G  would've   been  more                                                               
responsive to some  of the situations that  the sponsor described                                                               
had the past effort to add more staff occurred.                                                                                 
MS.  YUHAS specified  that although  she's not  advocating for  a                                                               
program, increasing  responders increases  response.   In further                                                               
response to Representative  Gardner, Ms. Yuhas said  she would be                                                               
speculating  regarding  whether a  larger  staff  could've had  a                                                               
greater response rate.                                                                                                          
8:42:55 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  expressed interest  in knowing  what kinds                                                               
of incidents have  been reported to ADF&G.   She then highlighted                                                               
that Anchorage is  trying to return its streams  to fish streams,                                                               
which attract bears.   Therefore, there needs to  be a discussion                                                               
regarding the impacts  of different management schemes.   To that                                                               
end, the  legislature should consider legislation  that increases                                                               
ADF&G  personnel  in  Anchorage for  educational  and  discussion                                                               
8:45:02 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON announced the intent  of the co-chairs to hold HB
281.  He  then requested that Ms. Yuhas work  with the sponsor to                                                               
narrow the term "game" to  refer to predators and further explore                                                               
public safety as a response protocol.                                                                                           
MS.  YUHAS stated  that the  legislation definitely  refers to  a                                                               
public safety response.  With  regard to whether public safety is                                                               
a  management tool,  Ms. Yuhas  explained that  public safety  is                                                               
incorporated into  the discussions.   However, to  change ADF&G's                                                               
statute  to  prioritize  public safety  in  terms  of  management                                                               
doesn't meet the constitutional needs of the rest of the system.                                                                
CO-CHAIR  HERRON  opined that  the  management  of this  type  of                                                               
animal and the population levels  on the Alaska Peninsula is very                                                               
different than those  same animals between Lake  Otis and Service                                                               
High School.                                                                                                                    
8:47:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  asked if  Ms. Yuhas  believes HB  281, as                                                               
currently written, is unconstitutional.                                                                                         
MS. YUHAS replied yes.                                                                                                          
8:47:33 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  returned to the scenario  presented by the                                                               
sponsor,  and inquired  as to  ADF&G's response  if the  bear had                                                               
shown  aggression  and   was  shot  by  the   individual  in  the                                                               
MS. YUHAS deferred to Mr. Saxby,  but added that the main concern                                                               
is that managing for all  public safety would pose litigation for                                                               
any animal in Anchorage that caused a problem.                                                                                  
8:48:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER   asked  if  HB  281,   as  proposed,  is                                                               
8:48:54 AM                                                                                                                    
KEVIN   SAXBY,  Senior   Assistant   Attorney  General,   Natural                                                               
Resources Section, Department of  Law, clarified that he wouldn't                                                               
say that  the legislation is  unconstitutional, but said  that it                                                               
raises  significant constitutional  issues, specifically  related                                                               
to Article  VII, Section  4, which in  general mandates  that all                                                               
wildlife be  managed for sustained  yield.  However, there  is an                                                               
allowance  subject  to preferences  among  beneficial  uses.   In                                                               
fact,  there is  a  case  before the  Alaska  Supreme Court,  the                                                               
decision  from  which  will  specify  the  extent  to  which  the                                                               
"subject  to"   clause  allows  the  state   to  reduce  predator                                                               
populations.   The aforementioned will obviously  have bearing on                                                               
what's being  discussed today.   Although the state has  held the                                                               
position  that it's  constitutional  to develop  plans to  reduce                                                               
predator populations, the language in HB  281 is not crafted in a                                                               
manner  that's as  protective of  constitutional  concerns.   The                                                               
case  before   the  Alaska  Supreme  Court   is  captioned  under                                                               
Defenders of Wildlife et.al. v. State.                                                                                        
8:50:32 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  inquired  as  to  the  scenario  when  an                                                               
Alaskan shoots game to protect him/herself.                                                                                     
MR. SAXBY  informed the committee  that many years ago  the Board                                                               
of Game  adopted a  regulation authorizing  shooting any  game in                                                               
defense of  life and property.   However,  if the game  was taken                                                               
out of  season and the citizen  was not licensed, there  would be                                                               
an  investigation  by  ADF&G  troopers.    If  the  investigation                                                               
illustrated a genuine threat to  life or property, there would be                                                               
no further consequences.                                                                                                        
8:51:26 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ asked if HB 281 covers bears.                                                                                    
MR. SAXBY answered that it seems to cover all game.                                                                             
8:52:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA referred to  documentation in the committee                                                               
packet regarding bear maulings in  Anchorage.  She asked if there                                                               
is  data  or  reporting  on  the  human  and  bear  incidents  in                                                               
Anchorage  over the  last five  years in  order to  determine the                                                               
immediacy of the problem.                                                                                                       
MR. SAXBY  said that based on  the testimony he has  heard in his                                                               
capacity as attorney for the Board  of Game, he is confident that                                                               
ADF&G can produce data on the bear/human encounters.                                                                            
8:55:08 AM                                                                                                                    
LARRY  KANIUT   commended  the  sponsor  and   opined  that  it's                                                               
appropriate  to  enact local  or  statewide  legislation on  this                                                               
issue.   He then recalled  that in  the 1970s bear  viewings were                                                               
scant, but  from 2000-2008 there  were three to five  bears every                                                               
summer in his  yard in the De'Armond area.   Having spent decades                                                               
researching bears, bear attacks,  and relationships between bears                                                               
and  humans,  Mr.  Kaniut  appreciated  Representative  Millett's                                                               
reference  to urbanized  bears.   He then  related that  problems                                                               
with  urbanized bears  exist  elsewhere as  well.   For  example,                                                               
about a year  ago in Indian Bird 12 bears  were killed in defense                                                               
of life and  the locals related that they had  killed at least 20                                                               
bears.   Therefore,  there's a  problem with  vigilantism.   With                                                               
regard to the language "immediate  harm", he opined that any time                                                               
there's  a bear  there is  immediate harm  because the  animal is                                                               
unpredictable.   This urbanized  bear is a  new bear  that hasn't                                                               
been seen before.  He related  that although residents of MOA are                                                               
being  told to  store their  garbage and  bird feeders,  the main                                                               
attractants  for bears  in Anchorage  is moose  cows and  the now                                                               
stocked fish  streams, both  of which  aren't being  addressed by                                                               
the department.   Mr. Kaniut expressed hope  for the introduction                                                               
of  legislation enabling  the Alaska  Moose Federation  to remove                                                               
some  of the  moose from  Anchorage  to other  areas, which  will                                                               
address bears to some degree.                                                                                                   
9:02:32 AM                                                                                                                    
BRAD  HERZOG characterized  HB 281  as  common sense  legislation                                                               
because  human life  is  sacred and  thus  human safety  concerns                                                               
should  be the  priority over  predatory animal  safety concerns.                                                               
He reminded the  committee that when bears  are aggressive toward                                                               
humans when unprovoked, it's highly  unnatural bear behavior that                                                               
should be  remedied prior to  the loss  of human life  or quality                                                               
human life.   He related that he has  interviewed individuals who                                                               
have lived  in Anchorage since  the 1950s, and  those individuals                                                               
report that bear attitudes have  changed over the years such that                                                               
bears  in  the area  have  became  progressively more  aggressive                                                               
toward humans in  some areas.  He opined that  although there may                                                               
have   been   a   smaller  population   in   Anchorage   in   the                                                               
aforementioned  timeframe,  there  was   likely  a  similar  bear                                                               
population.    However,  bears likely  acted  more  natural  when                                                               
encountering  humans.    Mr.  Herzog   opined  that  the  animals                                                               
referred  to  in  HB  281   are  a  renewable  resource  and  not                                                               
endangered.   This  legislation,  he surmised,  is largely  about                                                               
managing  unnatural predator  behavior  of  an abundant  predator                                                               
urban bear  population.  He  encouraged trying this  proposal for                                                               
awhile in MOA and if  the results are unsatisfactory, legislation                                                               
could  be introduced  to change  it back.   Mr.  Herzog specified                                                               
that he is a proponent of HB 281.                                                                                               
MR. HERZOG  then addressed  some of the  earlier comments  in the                                                               
meeting.   Concerning the phone  calls that would be  received by                                                               
dispatch  at the  police station,  he supposed  that it  would be                                                               
correct to  say that the  number of  phone calls would  be higher                                                               
right  after  the  legislation  is passed.    However,  one  must                                                               
remember it's  left to the  discretion of the dispatcher  to make                                                               
the decision whether  or not to dispatch an officer.   Mr. Herzog                                                               
opined  that  although there  may  initially  be an  increase  in                                                               
calls, it would eventually subside.                                                                                             
9:05:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  asked  if  Mr. Herzog  agreed  with  the                                                               
earlier comments  regarding the attractants of  bears being moose                                                               
and fish.   If so, she asked whether those  attractants should be                                                               
addressed in responding to problem bears.                                                                                       
MR.  HERZOG suggested  that  problem bears  could  be tagged  and                                                               
their  behavior observed.   He  suggested addressing  those bears                                                               
that are being taught unnatural behavior  first.  He said that in                                                               
deciding  whether  or  not to  address  reintroducing  fish  into                                                               
Anchorage streams, there should be  review of the numbers of fish                                                               
in the  streams in the  past and whether  or not there  were more                                                               
bear encounters and problems then than now.                                                                                     
9:08:49 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA  inquired as to APD's  policy, specifically                                                               
regarding whether game is more  important than human safety.  She                                                               
asked  if APD  has records  regarding the  [bear] encounters  for                                                               
which it has received calls and taken action.                                                                                   
9:09:17 AM                                                                                                                    
DEREK HSIEH, Sergeant,  Anchorage Police Department, Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage, responded that  Representative Cissna's question is                                                               
difficult  to answer  because generally  speaking APD  deals with                                                               
large animal problems, which would  include predators, moose, and                                                               
some categories of domesticated animals.   All those problems are                                                               
categorized as  animal problems.   In 2009  APD responded  to 624                                                               
animal  problems involving  all types  of animals;  additionally,                                                               
APD  responded to  a number  of traffic  incidents that  involved                                                               
animals  that  aren't  coded  as  animal  problems.    Mr.  Hsieh                                                               
estimated that  annually APD  receives 800-1,000  calls involving                                                               
an animal issue.                                                                                                                
9:10:35 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  HSIEH,   in  further  response  to   Representative  Cissna,                                                               
explained  that APD's  current policy/practice  is to  attempt to                                                               
notify ADF&G  or their troopers  regarding their  availability to                                                               
help  manage  the  problem.     If  ADF&G  or  its  troopers  are                                                               
available,  then  they  will  have   the  primary  authority  and                                                               
response in the  problem.  However, if not, APD  will most likely                                                               
dispatch  an officer  if  the  problem is  acute  and remedy  the                                                               
situation based on APD's good judgment and training.                                                                            
9:11:15 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA inquired  as to whether the  call or safety                                                               
is considered first.                                                                                                            
MR. HSIEH answered that public  safety comes first no matter what                                                               
the situation.   In regard to  HB 281, APD is  most interested in                                                               
the last  half of the  change in  which the board  authorizes the                                                               
municipal  police department  to take  action without  contacting                                                               
ADF&G,  thereby  allowing APD  to  have  some degree  of  primary                                                               
response.   He  recalled earlier  testimony regarding  increasing                                                               
ADF&G  staff,   which  he  characterized  as   great.    However,                                                               
ultimately it  would be better  for police officers in  the field                                                               
to  know that  they have  the  authority and  clarity to  resolve                                                               
problems, regardless of the animal.   He clarified that resolving                                                               
problems  with animals  doesn't necessarily  mean destroying  the                                                               
animal because  in many  causes the problem  can be  addressed by                                                               
other means.   In further response to  Representative Cissna, Mr.                                                               
Hsieh confirmed  that APD  officers do  receive some  training on                                                               
wildlife issues,  although he characterized wildlife  training as                                                               
hit or  miss.  He then  told the committee that  APD doesn't view                                                               
animal problems  as distinct from  other problems it's  called to                                                               
address.   In fact, officers  are encouraged to  resolve problems                                                               
in a  way in which the  solution addresses the highest  degree of                                                               
safety.  He offered that APD  could mine its data, but would need                                                               
to  know in  what  question  the committee  is  interested.   For                                                               
instance, APD could  determine how many animals,  of all species,                                                               
it has destroyed  in a year.   The APD could also  break down the                                                               
animal problems geographically, but  determining how many reports                                                               
were related to  a specific animal would  require reviewing every                                                               
police report.                                                                                                                  
9:15:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HERRON related  that  the focus  on  the animal  issues                                                               
would be on those that are predators.                                                                                           
MR. HSIEH agreed  to inquire whether APD can  easily provide such                                                               
9:15:46 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA recommended that  the committee develop the                                                               
question in order to obtain real data.                                                                                          
9:16:42 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON mentioned  the desire to tighten  the language of                                                               
HB  281, and  then announced  that the  legislation will  be held                                                               
over for further consideration.                                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER surmised  that the  vast majority  of the                                                               
800-1,000 animal issues involve dogs.                                                                                           
MR. HSIEH related  his assumption that dogs would  be involved in                                                               
the vast  majority of  animal issues  with moose  following close                                                               
9:17:24 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER  related her understanding  that currently                                                               
APD would  notify ADF&G when  dispatch receives a  call regarding                                                               
an animal.  If available,  APD would respond, sometimes even when                                                               
ADF&G  is  available.    Furthermore,  currently  responding  APD                                                               
police  officers can  remedy the  problem,  while keeping  public                                                               
safety first, based on their  training.  She highlighted that the                                                               
February 1, 2010,  letter from Mr. Hsieh says that  HB 281 "gives                                                               
the APD  the authority  to take  a bear  if it  is a  known human                                                               
threat."     However,  the  legislation  says   that  the  police                                                               
department  would be  authorized "to  take game  when the  taking                                                           
serves to protect human life  from immediate harm from the game",                                                           
which is different  than a "known human threat."   Therefore, she                                                               
questioned in what way HB  281 would change existing policy, save                                                               
APD not having to notify ADF&G first.                                                                                           
MR.  HSIEH answered  that it  wouldn't [change  existing policy];                                                               
the legislation merely clarifies and streamlines process.                                                                       
9:19:09 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MUNOZ  asked  if  the current  law  lacks  clarity  and                                                               
authority for APD to act when public safety is in jeopardy.                                                                     
MR. HSIEH  replied no, adding that  he hasn't heard of  a problem                                                               
with officers  addressing animal  problems.  The  legislation, he                                                               
reiterated,  provides  for a  quicker  process  by eliminating  a                                                               
response  step  or two  that  may  be  time consuming  and  delay                                                               
9:20:57 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  surmised then  that  passage  of HB  281                                                               
would  allow  a  quicker  process.    Therefore,  she  questioned                                                               
whether  it would  be  easier to  change  departmental policy  to                                                               
accomplish the goal  of HB 281.  She questioned  why statute that                                                               
applies to large cities is necessary.                                                                                           
MR.  HSIEH related  his understanding  that APD  is obligated  by                                                               
statute  to  contact  ADF&G  as  APD  doesn't  have  the  primary                                                               
authority  to  address  these  animal  problems,  which  APD  has                                                               
addressed through MOUs and practicality.                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE GARDNER said that she  would like to hear from the                                                               
sponsor  regarding  whether   the  aforementioned  obligation  to                                                               
contact ADF&G is in statute or an MOU.                                                                                          
9:22:44 AM                                                                                                                    
STACY SHUBERT,  Intergovernmental Affairs  Director, Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage, read the following statement in support of HB 281:                                                                
     The Municipality of Anchorage  recognizes the threat of                                                                    
     aggressive   animals   within  the   municipality   and                                                                    
     appreciates   the   work    of   the   bill   sponsors,                                                                    
     particularly   Representative   Millett.       When   a                                                                    
     resident's  safety is  put in  jeopardy, the  Anchorage                                                                    
     Police  Department  does  have the  authority  to  take                                                                    
     game.     However,  we  view  this   legislation  as  a                                                                    
     proactive  step by  the [Alaska]  Department of  Fish &                                                                    
     Game  to  manage  for safety;  eliminating  the  threat                                                                    
     before it  is immediate, therefore  prioritizing safety                                                                    
     over  management   for  abundance.     Furthermore,  we                                                                    
     appreciate  the  language  that requires  the  [Alaska]                                                                    
     Department  of  Fish  &  Game  to  be  responsible  for                                                                    
     removing  and disposing  of the  carcass  in the  event                                                                    
     that  the   APD  does,  in   fact,  take   the  animal.                                                                    
     Therefore, again, we are in  support of this bill and I                                                                    
     thank you for the opportunity to testify.                                                                                  
9:24:21 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MUNOZ asked  if MOA has undertaken an  effort to address                                                               
the issue of containment of garbage to address bear problems.                                                                   
MS. SHUBERT  said that although she  has only been on  staff with                                                               
MOA for  the last six  months, she is  aware that there  are some                                                               
efforts.    However,  she  said  she would  have  to  review  the                                                               
specifics of  those efforts and  provide that information  to the                                                               
9:25:12 AM                                                                                                                    
RONALD  JORDAN,  Taku/Campbell  Community Council,  testified  in                                                               
support  of   HB  281,  which   he  characterized   as  necessary                                                               
legislation.   This  legislation,  he opined,  will allow  better                                                               
safety around  schools.   Mr. Jordan related  his belief  that HB
281  should  be  extended  to  apply  to  any  locale  with  bear                                                               
9:26:34 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT  stated that  she is  open to  changing HB
281,  which  she   characterized  as  a  proactive   step.    She                                                               
emphasized that the  extra steps sometimes can  seem foolish when                                                               
reporting an animal issue, and  therefore allowing APD to respond                                                               
without   contacting  ADF&G   is  necessary.     In   conclusion,                                                               
Representative Millett  welcomed the  committee's help  in making                                                               
this legislation better.                                                                                                        
9:27:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER restated  her earlier  question regarding                                                               
whether the process  of calling ADF&G prior to  APD responding is                                                               
in statute or part of APD's policy or MOU.                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT related  her  belief  that ADF&G  manages                                                               
wildlife, and  therefore would be  the first responder,  and that                                                               
the MOU came  about because the statute is unclear.   She offered                                                               
to  research  the  matter  further  and  provide  information  to                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  GARDNER  expressed  puzzlement because  it  seems                                                               
that  APD  can  currently  respond   if  it  desires  to  do  so,                                                               
particularly if the situation is deemed an immediate threat.                                                                    
[HB 281 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB276-DOT&PF-CO-1-28-10.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB 276 Sponsor.docx HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB 281 sponsor statement1.doc HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281
HB 276 Sitka Airport Property Boundary correction signed letter 1 28 2010.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB 276 Q & A.docx HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB 276 color map.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB281-DFG-BDS-02-01-10.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281
HB281-DFG-WLF-02-01-10.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281
HB 276 Committee Mins.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
CSHB 276 Proposal.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 276
HB 281 pro letter.PDF HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281
HB 281 ACE ltr.PDF HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281
HB281-DPS-AWT-02-01-10.pdf HCRA 2/2/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281