Legislature(2009 - 2010)BARNES 124

04/01/2010 08:00 AM House COMMUNITY & REGIONAL AFFAIRS

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08:09:18 AM Start
08:09:38 AM HB281
08:56:24 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
<Bill Hearing Postponed>
Heard & Held; Assigned to Subcommittee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
         HB 281-BOARD OF GAME/FISH & GAME COMMISSIONER                                                                      
8:09:38 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON announced  that the only 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."                                                                                
8:10:40 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT,  speaking  as  the sponsor  of  HB  281,                                                               
explained  that HB  281  came  about after  two  maulings in  her                                                               
district in  2008.  This  legislation proposes a  management tool                                                               
for the  Alaska Department of Fish  & Game (ADF&G) to  utilize to                                                               
address nuisance  bears.  The  legislation proposes that  the top                                                               
priority  with  wildlife for  ADF&G  is  public safety  over  the                                                               
sustainable yield of the wildlife.                                                                                              
8:13:20 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  pointed  out that  although  the  sponsor                                                               
statement  refers   to  garbage,  it  doesn't   include  anything                                                               
regarding that aspect  of the bear issue.  He  inquired as to how                                                               
the garbage issue is connected to game management.                                                                              
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT  answered  that the  legislation  doesn't                                                               
address  the garbage  issue because  it's  a municipality  issue.                                                               
She  noted  that   she  has  worked  with   the  Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage,  which  intends  to  implement  some  pilot  projects,                                                               
including bear proof  containers, this summer in  areas with high                                                               
bear activity.                                                                                                                  
8:14:49 AM                                                                                                                    
JEDIDIAH  SMITH,  Legislative  Liaison,  Alaska  Center  for  the                                                               
Environment (ACE), informed the  committee that the Alaska Center                                                               
for  the Environment  is Alaska's  oldest and  largest home-grown                                                               
grass   roots  conservation   organization.     The  organization                                                               
represents over  6,000 members.   He then provided  the following                                                               
     The Alaska Center for the  Environment has been working                                                                    
     collaboratively  with state  and federal  agencies, the                                                                    
     municipality,  other entities,  and businesses  to help                                                                    
     inform residents who live and  recreate in bear country                                                                    
     how  they can  reduce  their risks  of having  negative                                                                    
     encounters with bears, both  in their neighborhoods and                                                                    
     on the  trails through our Safe  Neighborhoods and Wild                                                                    
     Bears  campaign.   Our group  has been  responsible for                                                                    
     securing  funding,   producing  educational  materials,                                                                    
     reaching  out  to  thousands of  people,  and  managing                                                                    
     pilot projects  to keep bears  out of  neighborhoods by                                                                    
     promoting  the use  of  bear  resistant containers  and                                                                    
     dumpster lids.   Taken all  together, our  efforts have                                                                    
     been  successful and  we have  seen a  decrease in  the                                                                    
     reports of bears hanging around  in neighborhoods.  The                                                                    
     Alaska  Center for  the  Environment  does not  believe                                                                    
     that  HB 281  is necessary  nor do  we believe  that it                                                                    
     would result  in fewer negative bear  encounters.  Just                                                                    
     to add  some perspective,  two people have  been killed                                                                    
     by bears  in the  Municipality of Anchorage  in Chugach                                                                    
     State Park in  the past 95 years.  The  money needed to                                                                    
     implement this  bill, over $100,000 the  first year and                                                                    
     $50,000  therein   to  maintain,  could  be   spent  on                                                                    
     programs  that will  have far  better results,  such as                                                                    
     implementing     a    garbage     management    policy.                                                                    
     Representative Millett has  acknowledged the success of                                                                    
     Juneau's  garbage  policies,   but  has  concerns  that                                                                    
     Anchorage  is  simply too  large  to  implement such  a                                                                    
     program.  One hundred thousand  dollars would go a long                                                                    
     way  to  help  neighborhoods comply  with  and  enforce                                                                    
     stricter guidelines.   And if there  is money available                                                                    
     from  the state  to reduce  the incidents  of bears  in                                                                    
     neighborhoods, it  is our recommendation that  we start                                                                    
     there.   I  respectfully  request that  if you  haven't                                                                    
     done  so  already,  please  review  the  recent  survey                                                                    
     released  by  the Alaska  Department  of  Fish &  Game,                                                                    
     which  shows  that  most   adult  residents  living  in                                                                    
     Anchorage  appreciate seeing  moose  and  bears in  the                                                                    
     city,  even  in their  neighborhoods.    Most want  the                                                                    
     number  of moose  and bears  to be  maintained or  even                                                                    
     increased  in the  city.   Most adult  residents accept                                                                    
     the  presence of  brown and  black bears  and moose  in                                                                    
     city  parks like  Far North  Bicentennial  Park.   Most                                                                    
     opposed destroying  brown bears, black bears,  or moose                                                                    
     every  year to  reduce  the population.   Most  opposed                                                                    
     designating  specific  areas   in  Anchorage,  such  as                                                                    
     downtown,  where  bears  would  be killed  as  soon  as                                                                    
     possible.      Most  supported   wildlife   authorities                                                                    
     destroying specific bears at  their discretion when the                                                                    
     authority  believes the  bears pose  a threat  to human                                                                    
     safety in the Anchorage area.   I have the web site for                                                                    
     where the survey is available  that I can submit to the                                                                    
     committee.  While we recognize  the potential danger of                                                                    
     sharing our neighborhoods and  trails with wildlife, we                                                                    
     believe  there are  more effective  ways of  addressing                                                                    
     this issue.   Our  recommendations include  creating an                                                                    
     ordinance  requiring  bear-resistant tipper  carts  and                                                                    
     dumpster   lids  in   identified  neighborhoods;   fund                                                                    
     programs  that  address  the  root  cause  of  negative                                                                    
     encounters  with wildlife;  enforce existing  laws that                                                                    
     prohibit the  feeding of  wildlife through  garbage and                                                                    
     other  attractants; educate  residents about  bears and                                                                    
     moose behavior  and how to  reduce risks of  a negative                                                                    
     encounter;  engage   in  long  range  park   and  trail                                                                    
     subdivision   planning;   identify  critical   wildlife                                                                    
     migration corridors; evaluate  salmon stocking programs                                                                    
     in  urban areas;  and  develop  a cooperative  planning                                                                    
     committee  with the  Alaska Department  of Fish  & Game                                                                    
     and the city.                                                                                                              
8:18:43 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON inquired  as to the mission of  the Alaska Center                                                               
for the Environment.                                                                                                            
MR. SMITH related that ACE has  a number of programs, including a                                                               
sustainable  communities  program,  a   local  foods  program,  a                                                               
program  that promotes  gardening,  a public  lands and  wildlife                                                               
program that  promotes the sustainable management  of wildlife, a                                                               
trailside education  and outreach program, and  an energy program                                                               
that promotes renewable and sustainable energy programs.                                                                        
CO-CHAIR  HERRON recalled  that Mr.  Smith complimented  Juneau's                                                               
garbage program,  and suggested that  the $100,000 could  be used                                                               
to implement a  [program] in Anchorage.  He asked  if $100,000 is                                                               
reasonable to address an area the  size of Anchorage.  He further                                                               
asked if ACE is willing to match that amount.                                                                                   
MR. SMITH  responded that ACE has  already made a start  in terms                                                               
of outreach  efforts in the way  of education as well  as secured                                                               
grant funding for  some of the education programs.   He said that                                                               
he's not the manager of that  program, but would be happy to seek                                                               
information on  it for  the committee.   Furthermore,  he related                                                               
his willingness  to work  with the  municipality, the  state, and                                                               
the sponsor toward a solution.                                                                                                  
8:20:53 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE HARRIS  related that although he  officially lives                                                               
in Valdez,  he has  had a  house in Anchorage  for the  last five                                                               
years.   [At the  Anchorage house]  moose are  in the  front yard                                                               
year round, which is of concern.   He stressed that public safety                                                               
has to be the  highest priority.  Therefore, if a  bear is in the                                                               
area kids  are playing, the bear  will [be killed] before  any of                                                               
the  kids  die  or  the police  arrive.    Representative  Harris                                                               
further  stressed that  placing  something  before public  safety                                                               
will be difficult,  particularly since the public  is upset about                                                               
wild animals.   He expressed the need for the  wild animals to go                                                               
elsewhere  and to  be  controlled  in some  fashion.   The  Moose                                                               
Federation, he noted,  is doing a good job getting  moose off the                                                               
road.  "We  have an obligation, the department  has an obligation                                                               
to try  and make  sure that  the public safety  is taken  care of                                                               
first," he stated.   He concluded by relating his  support for HB
8:24:35 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA opined  that one of the  challenges here is                                                               
choosing  respect.     The   Municipality  of   Anchorage  survey                                                               
referenced   by  Mr.   Smith  included   Representative  Cissna's                                                               
district,  and  therefore  she  surmised  that  her  constituents                                                               
likely weighed heavily on appreciating  the wildlife in the area.                                                               
She  mentioned  that  her   neighborhood  is  becoming  watchful,                                                               
particularly  in terms  of putting  out garbage.   She  expressed                                                               
interest  in   ensuring  [everyone  is]  mindful   of  safety  in                                                               
communities and  acknowledging the potential for  moose to return                                                               
to areas where  management has been done carefully.   In closing,                                                               
Representative  Cissna  said she  wanted  to  be sure  that  [the                                                               
committee  is  acknowledging  the   mix  of  people  in  Alaska's                                                               
communities and their  desire to determine how to  exist with the                                                               
wildlife in Alaska.                                                                                                             
8:27:48 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. SMITH,  in response to Representative  Harris, clarified that                                                               
ACE  is  not saying  it  supports  wildlife  over the  safety  of                                                               
children.  The organization, however,  is promoting education and                                                               
awareness and responsible management of garbage.                                                                                
8:28:36 AM                                                                                                                    
JENNIFER YUHAS, Legislative Liaison,  Alaska Department of Fish &                                                               
Game,  related that  while ADF&G  lauds the  sponsor raising  the                                                               
issue of bear  awareness and public safety,  the department still                                                               
has  significant  concerns with  HB  281.   The  department,  she                                                               
further  related,  believes HB  281  is  unnecessary.   The  only                                                               
obstacle  the  Anchorage  Police   Department  (APD)  faces  when                                                               
determining whether  to dispatch an  animal that they  are unsure                                                               
is causing a public safety issue  is APD's own policy.  Since the                                                               
prior  hearing on  HB 281,  the department  has worked  with APD,                                                               
which has  been more  amenable to  utilizing training  that ADF&G                                                               
already provides  in Kodiak  and Juneau.   Ms. Yuhas  pointed out                                                               
that  nothing in  statute  or in  a  memorandum of  understanding                                                               
(MOU) prohibits APD from dispatching  an animal that's causing an                                                               
immediate  public  safety  problem.   On  the  contrary,  statute                                                               
expressly  allows an  individual to  dispatch an  animal that  is                                                               
causing a problem for the individual's own life and property.                                                                   
8:30:23 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   KELLER  related   his   understanding  that   no                                                               
individual has ever been prosecuted  for protecting family, kids,                                                               
or garbage  as that's already  the policy and  the law.   He then                                                               
asked if there  has ever been a prosecution  for someone shooting                                                               
an animal when he/she felt his/her life was in danger.                                                                          
MS. YUHAS answered  that she wasn't aware of  such a prosecution,                                                               
but deferred to Kevin Saxby who is the attorney for ADF&G.                                                                      
8:31:47 AM                                                                                                                    
GARY  FOLGER, Colonel/Director,  Division  of Wildlife  Troopers,                                                               
Department  of  Public  Safety,  in  response  to  Representative                                                               
Keller, said that  very few prosecutions occur due  to defense of                                                               
life and property.  He  attributed the aforementioned to the fact                                                               
that  one   person's  fear  may  be   completely  different  than                                                               
another's fear, which makes prosecution very difficult.                                                                         
8:32:16 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  KELLER  said  that  it  was  a  leading  question                                                               
because  the legislature  shouldn't  change  its game  management                                                               
laws if the matter is already addressed in existing law.                                                                        
8:32:38 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. YUHAS, in response to  Co-Chair Herron, agreed to provide Mr.                                                               
Saxby's response  to Representative Keller's question.   She then                                                               
clarified that ADF&G's  game management in urban  areas isn't for                                                               
abundance or large populations of  ungulates or fur bearers.  The                                                               
game  management   populations  are  set  through   the  advisory                                                               
committee process and the Board  of Game, with significant public                                                               
testimony.   Public  safety is  taken  into consideration  during                                                               
that process.  In rural  areas, there would likely be significant                                                               
testimony relating  the desire of  a high population of  moose in                                                               
order  to feed  their families  whereas in  urban areas  there is                                                               
significant testimony regarding public  safety issues.  Ms. Yuhas                                                               
explained  that while  the department  is bound  to manage  for a                                                               
sustainable  yield, that's  not abundance.   She  compared it  to                                                               
having  a  bank  account  in   that  while  interest  has  to  be                                                               
generated,  in an  urban  area  it can  be  the lowest  allowable                                                               
interest  possible  on  the  account   of  any  type  of  animal.                                                               
However,  in  a  rural  area where  the  department  manages  for                                                               
abundance, the  department would  want a  high interest  yield in                                                               
order to draw from it every year.                                                                                               
8:34:05 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE MILLETT directed attention  to ADF&G's fiscal note                                                               
specifying  a   fiscal  impact  on   the  Division   of  Wildlife                                                               
Conservation, which she disputed.   She opined that HB 281 didn't                                                               
change the  process of picking  up carcasses in  the Municipality                                                               
of Anchorage.   Therefore, she asked if the fiscal  note could be                                                               
zeroed out since it seems disingenuous.                                                                                         
MS.  YUHAS related  that  ADF&G's  Administrative Services  staff                                                               
read  the  legislation  to  mandate  that  ADF&G  pick  up  these                                                               
carcasses.   The aforementioned  mandate wouldn't allow  ADF&G to                                                               
work  with the  road crews,  Hunters  for the  Hungry, and  other                                                               
groups who  pick up carcasses.   She recalled that  in Fairbanks,                                                               
the  [local government]  retrieved moose  from residents'  yards,                                                               
although  there  is  no  mandate  for such,  as  it's  a  private                                                               
property issue.   The  department has simply  done the  same, and                                                               
thus the  mandate in HB  281 would  change the situation  and the                                                               
department would expect to receive  more calls.  Furthermore, the                                                               
department  doesn't  have  the fleet  resources  to  address  the                                                               
aforementioned,  which  is  why  the  purchase  of  a  truck  was                                                               
included in the fiscal note.                                                                                                    
8:35:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON inquired  as to where that mandate  is located in                                                               
the legislation.                                                                                                                
MS. YUHAS said that the mandate  is located in Section 1(20).  If                                                               
the mandate stands, the department  doesn't have the resources to                                                               
respond to the volume of calls expected.                                                                                        
8:36:55 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR   HERRON,  referring   to  an   amendment  labeled   26-                                                               
LS1194\R.1, Kane, 3/26/10,  asked if changing the  term "game" to                                                               
"predators"  would  change  the  [department's  view  and  fiscal                                                               
note].   He mentioned his understanding  that there are a  lot of                                                               
moose carcasses rather than predator carcasses.                                                                                 
MS.  YUHAS  clarified  that  the  department's  fiscal  note  was                                                               
drafted  to   address  the  legislation  before   the  committee.                                                               
However,  should the  aforementioned  amendment  be adopted,  the                                                               
fiscal note would likely change.                                                                                                
The committee took a brief at-ease.                                                                                             
8:38:10 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON announced that by  request of the sponsor, HB 281                                                               
will be assigned to a subcommittee of one, the sponsor.                                                                         
8:38:31 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  CISSNA  discussed  the  different  views  of  the                                                               
presence  of animals  in urban  and  rural areas.   Although  she                                                               
indicated  the  need  to address  wildlife  that  is  endangering                                                               
humans, she  expressed the need  to remember that in  Alaska it's                                                               
difficult to control  animals that are being fed  knowingly.  She                                                               
expressed  the need  for  HB  281 to  include  education for  the                                                               
MS. YUHAS  said that she  doesn't see  much in the  language that                                                               
doesn't  cause complication.   With  regard to  the rural  public                                                               
safety issue, Ms. Yuhas related  that public safety is taken into                                                               
account.  In  fact, recently the department dealt  with some very                                                               
high profile issues in Chignik Lake.   Just prior to the incident                                                               
at Chignik Lake, ADF&G had  proposed a management plan for aerial                                                               
predator control.   Although the aforementioned  plan was brought                                                               
forth   for   ungulate   population  recovery,   the   department                                                               
understands  that  public  safety  issues  occur  throughout  the                                                               
state.   With regard to what  the department can do  to help, Ms.                                                               
Yuhas reminded the committee that  ADF&G has bear aware programs.                                                               
The  department would  [support]  representatives in  communities                                                               
with bear  problems to  promote bear awareness  in ways  that the                                                               
department   doesn't   believe    requires   statutory   changes.                                                               
Ambassadors  for such  programs,  she opined,  would benefit  the                                                               
department and the public significantly.                                                                                        
8:42:20 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HERRON expressed  his  hope that  nothing happens  this                                                               
summer  that would  cause  the committee  to see  fit  to hold  a                                                               
8:44:37 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA recalled the  training she received to deal                                                               
with teenagers  with violent histories.   The training  begins by                                                               
informing everyone  that prevention is best.   The aforementioned                                                               
is true with animals as well.   Therefore, she encouraged the use                                                               
of prevention methods.                                                                                                          
8:45:28 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT anticipated  that in  her district  there                                                               
will continue  to be  bear problems  and encounters  with humans.                                                               
She clarified that  she's referring to the  casual encounter with                                                               
a bear  in an individual's  backyard where meat is  being grilled                                                               
and children  are playing.   She, too,  expressed hope  that this                                                               
summer no  incidents occur that  cause the committee to  hear the                                                               
legislation again  and be  in a position  of reacting,  much like                                                               
with  the incident  in Chignik  Lake.   She charged  that in  the                                                               
Chignik Lake  situation, the state  reacted too late  and nothing                                                               
meaningful that  provided public safety  was put in place.   With                                                               
regard to  the ACE  survey, Representative  Millett characterized                                                               
it as  a jaded, one-sided  survey that  she considered to  be the                                                               
worst survey that she's ever seen.   She further charged that the                                                               
survey was  meant to obtain  the results  it did and  the science                                                               
was poor.   Moreover,  the survey wasn't  conducted by  an Alaska                                                               
company and there  was no due diligence with regard  to the types                                                               
of questions that  should've been asked.  She  related that while                                                               
she  enjoys  viewing  wildlife,  she   prefers  it  to  be  in  a                                                               
controlled environment  in which  she or  her children  aren't at                                                               
risk.    A three-year-old  can't  be  taught  how to  be  careful                                                               
[around] bears.   Representative  Millet told the  committee that                                                               
she introduced HB 281 in an effort to find solutions.                                                                           
8:48:45 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KELLER  recommended that the sponsor  consider the                                                               
definition of "predator" when working on  HB 281.  He related his                                                               
understanding  that the  term "predator"  includes birds  of prey                                                               
and goes beyond the sponsor's  intent.  He expressed concern that                                                               
[HB 281] would establish a  game management plan that's different                                                               
for  one area  over another.    The department  and citizens,  he                                                               
reiterated, already have the authority to deal with bears.                                                                      
8:50:08 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT remarked  that the  legislation may  need                                                               
language to address  nuisance bears.  She  informed the committee                                                               
that although  statute doesn't have  a definition  of "predator,"                                                               
ADF&G's  definition includes  bears,  raptors, wolverines,  lynx,                                                               
[wolves], and pike  fish.  Of those, she said  she would focus on                                                               
bears  and wolves.    She  related she  no  longer  walks in  her                                                               
neighborhood without pepper spray.                                                                                              
8:51:54 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  MUNOZ moved  Amendment 1  labeled 26-LS1194\R.1,  Kane,                                                               
3/26/10, which read:                                                                                                            
     Page 1, line 2:                                                                                                            
          Delete "game"                                                                                                       
          Insert "predators"                                                                                                  
     Page 1, line 5:                                                                                                            
          Delete "remove a game carcass when notified that                                                                      
          Insert "provide for the removal of a predator                                                                         
     carcass when notified that a predator"                                                                                     
     Page 1, line 13:                                                                                                           
          Delete "game resources"                                                                                           
          Insert "predators"                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 3:                                                                                                            
          Delete "game"                                                                                                     
          Insert "a predator"                                                                                               
     Page 2, line 4:                                                                                                            
          Delete "game"                                                                                                     
     Insert "predator"                                                                                                      
CO-CHAIR HERRON objected for purposes of discussion.                                                                            
8:52:04 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  HERRON   closed  public  testimony  and   reminded  the                                                               
committee that HB 281 will be assigned to subcommittee.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE   CISSNA  offered   a   conceptual  amendment   to                                                               
Amendment 1  such that Section  1 would allow the  various groups                                                               
to  pick up  carcasses  without  getting in  the  way of  sharing                                                               
edible meat.                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  MILLETT interjected  that  Amendment 1  addresses                                                               
what  Representative   Cissna  is  suggesting  in   the  proposed                                                               
conceptual amendment to  Amendment 1.  She  directed attention to                                                               
the language being inserted on page  1, line 5, which would read:                                                               
"provide  for the  removal of  a predator  carcass when  notified                                                               
that a predator".  The aforementioned language was developed in                                                                 
conjunction with ADF&G to accommodate ADF&G's current practices                                                                 
related to removing carcasses.                                                                                                  
8:54:53 AM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR HERRON withdrew his objection.  There being no further                                                                 
objection, Amendment 1 was adopted.                                                                                             
8:55:09 AM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE CISSNA expressed the need to ensure that humans                                                                  
respect and take care of each other rather than kill and hurt.                                                                  
[HB 281 was held over.]                                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB 281 - Amendment R.1.pdf HCRA 4/1/2010 8:00:00 AM
HB 281