Legislature(2003 - 2004)
05/04/2004 08:02 AM STA
* first hearing in first committee of referral
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
SB 297-BEAR HUNTING/DISPOSAL OF HIDE/SKULL Number 0042 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that the first order of business would be CS FOR SENATE BILL NO. 297(RES), "An Act relating to bear predation management and the donation and sale of bear hides and skulls." Number 0053 SENATOR RALPH SEEKINS, Alaska State Legislature, sponsor, presented SB 297. He reported that there is no shortage of black or grizzly bears throughout Alaska. Furthermore, they are not threatened or endangered and, in some game management units, the bear populations are "many multiples of the established population objectives." The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G) estimates statewide black bear populations as high as 200,000 and grizzly and brown bear populations as high as approximately 35,000. In certain game management units, the estimates show that 70- 90 percent of all moose calves are dead before the age of two months, due in large part to bear predation. As a result, Senator Seekins said, "The fall recruitment was virtually nothing, and the reproductive base populations are crashing." He noted that the 2003 McGrath bear relocation experiment "pretty clearly" demonstrated that a reduction in bear population has a direct positive effect on increasing [moose] calf survivability. SENATOR SEEKINS explained that SB 297 would allow relaxation of the standards regarding who can hunt in areas where there is an overpopulation of bears, thus making it possible to help reduce the number of bears down to the population objective that's been set by the Board of Game. The following findings would have to be established first by the Board of Game: the consumptive use of the big game population is a preferred use; depletion of that big game population has occurred and may result in a significant reduction in allowable human harvest of the population; and enhancement of abundance of a big game prey population is feasibly achievable, utilizing recognized and prudent active management techniques. Once those findings are in place and an intensive management use area is established, then the provisions of SB 297 would come into play. He continued as follows: Those provisions, basically, are: We would allow a resident ... 21 years of age - who's hunted big game for two years, who's harvested big game in one year, and who has completed a safety course that [the ADF&G] is going to put together - to accompany a maximum of two non-resident or non- resident alien hunters into the field to hunt for bear in that area. ... You cannot get ... remuneration for that. So, ... under the second degree of kindred rule, a ten-year-old could take their ... step-grandfather hunting grizzly bear. This now would allow me to take my daughter's father-in-law with me to go hunting, as long as I meet that criteria. That criteria is more stringent than the requirement that we have for an assistant guide. So, it's not just like anybody gets to go out there and do it .... SENATOR SEEKINS noted that the bill would also allow a military person coming to Alaska to be considered a resident, in terms of being able to hunt "in that area." If that person meets the aforementioned criteria, he/she would then be able to take a friend along who might not otherwise be able to hunt. He said, "So, it gives them a 12-month edge to be able to get into the field, to be able to hunt." The bill would also require the ADF&G to set up a hunter safety course that's available throughout the state. He also indicated that the Board of Game would have the ability to choose which methods and means would be most effective. Once the population objective set by the Board of Game is met, he remarked, "this whole thing goes away." Senator Seekins stated that something needs to be done before the prey populations crash. He emphasized that there would be a lot of control involved, and areas such as Kodiak will not be one of the areas that will be considered to be active management areas "for this purpose." Number 0540 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked why the distinction between nonresident and nonresident alien is important to the bill. SENATOR SEEKINS explained that current statute requires that a nonresident or nonresident alien must be accompanied by a big game guide in the field. He stated: "So, by allowing this exception to this statute - with these carefully prescribed qualifications and in these particular areas - that would need to be corrected ... or allowed in statute. That's why it's there." Number 0583 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM asked why the fee was lowered from $500 to $250. SENATOR SEEKINS responded that it was made a ceiling fee rather than a bear permit. He clarified: "We wanted to make this distinct from hunting; this is bear predation management [and] requires a bear predation management permit that they have to apply for." He explained that the difference is that the person would only pay the money if he/she gets the bear, rather than paying up front and possibly not even seeing a bear. He said it was suggested by Senator Ogan that "we probably will get about the same amount of money, or maybe more, because we're going to try to reduce that bear population." Number 0663 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked what would prevent a person from hunting as the bill would allow, rather than paying up front to hunt. SENATOR SEEKINS said the purpose of the bill is to get more people out there hunting to reduce the bear population; however, he emphasized that if someone wants to get a trophy bear, he/she won't find them "in these areas." In response to questions from Chair Weyhrauch, he stated that one of the findings that would be required is that bears are a part of the problem [in predation] and a reduction in bears would help solve the problem. He said there are several game management areas that have this problem. For example, he cited Game Management Unit (GMU) 13, where the bear population is between 1,500-1,600 and the population objective is around 300. In response to a question from Representative Lynn, he revealed that GMU 13 is an area bounded by the Parks Highway, the Denali Highway, the Richardson Highway, and the [Glen Highway]. In that area, moose populations were at one time 27,000, but are currently 7,000-8,000 because of the huge predation problem that exists. Number 0854 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked whether [bears] would automatically qualify under the [wolf] predation [program]. SENATOR SEEKINS said he doesn't know, but offered his belief that bears are part of the problem in GMU 19, 20, and 13. Number 0953 REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked how the annual bear count would be done. SENATOR SEEKINS replied that although bears are hard to count, there is a rough estimate of populations in "these areas," as well as a population objective. He surmised that Mr. Robus, from the ADF&G, would have the ability to talk about the infield process more than he can. REPRESENTATIVE COGHILL asked what accountability measure there would be if a person is given a permit and never shows up again. SENATOR SEEKINS directed attention to page 4, lines 1-4, which read in part: A nonresident or nonresident alien shall pay a fee of $250 at the time the bear is sealed by the department. The person shall accurately complete and return to the department in a timely manner reports that may be required by regulations of the Board of Game. SENATOR SEEKINS said that the ADF&G and the Board of Game will have some timeline requirements regarding how the [report] is returned. Number 1085 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON directed attention to a letter from [the Alaska Professional Hunter's Association, included in the committee packet], stating that differential treatment of nonresidents in different areas within the state is likely to expose Alaska's bag requirement to a federal constitutional equal protection challenge. He asked Senator Seekins if he had looked at that and sought a legal opinion. SENATOR SEEKINS said he has not obtained a legal opinion from Legislative Legal and Research Services, but he has worked with attorneys from "several of the outdoor groups." He reiterated the aforementioned criteria. He said: What we've done is we've tried to make sure that the requirement here is at least in the area of what we would require from a second-class guide. If I personally were going to challenge that constitutionally, I would challenge it based on the "second degree of kindred" rule, because a ten-year-old who's never been in the field can guide their step-grandfather to hunt grizzly bear, under that provision. There are sideboards on this that -- lawyers are 50 percent right/50 percent wrong, and they'll always find a reason not to do something .... But, what ... we [are] looking at is: Okay, how do we effectively reduce this population? I think we've given them some information here. If you were going to challenge that requirement, it would not be based on these more stringent requirements for someone to be able to accompany, but it would be on a second degree of kindred rule. Number 1211 PAUL JOHNSON (ph) stated that he totally understands what Senator Seekins is trying to accomplish; however, he said he has a real concern regarding the guide-required portions of the bill. He restated Senator Seekins' remark about lawyers being right 50 percent of the time and wrong the other 50 percent of the time. He indicated the bill would affect more than just bear; sheep and goats would also be jeopardized, as well as the state's resources. He mentioned Montana, and said that attorneys that he has talked with have warned, "Don't play games with this." He mentioned compounding subsistence problems and resident hunt problems, and said [the bill] "puts the industry in jeopardy." He concluded, "It's just a huge gamble; it isn't worth it." REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked Mr. Johnson if he represents or is a member of a particular group. MR. JOHNSON replied that he belongs to the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Inc. (APHA). He revealed his background as having worked on game issues for over 25 years. In response to a follow-up question from Representative Gruenberg, he confirmed that the legal opinion to which he referred was the same as was earlier noted in the APHA's letter. He emphasized that this is not a new issue. He acknowledged that things aren't perfect, but stressed that they have worked well to this point. Number 1430 JOE KLUTSCH, President, Alaska Professional Hunters Association, Inc. (APHA), told the committee that the APHA represents over 600 professional members statewide and facilitates a major component of Alaska's visitor industry. He revealed that he has been guiding big game hunts for over 30 years. Where he lives out on the Alaska peninsula, he noted, brown bears have always been a significant factor in moose calf mortality, and offered his view that predators are generally opportunists; there's no doubt that a relatively small percentage of the bear population are the culprits in calf mortality. He said that to a great extent, it's learned behavior, adding his belief that the indiscriminate or wholesale killing of brown bears and grizzly bears is not likely to result in a notable increase in calf survival. He opined that these are issues best left to the Board of Game. Number 1505 MR. KLUTSCH referred to the previously mentioned letter which emphasizes the importance of maintaining the guide [requirement] without exception. He said: "Our counsel is a leading national expert on this subject and has cited significant case law that underscored the importance of not making exceptions to the provisions; to do so will ... undermine the defensibility of the provision in its entirety." He noted that the Alaska guide requirement is predicated on considerations of hunter welfare and safety, resource management, enforcement, and accountability. It benefits people who come from outside Alaska to hunt, as well as resident hunters. MR. KLUTSCH highlighted an excerpt from his letter, which read [original punctuation provided]: Any action that says, in essence, that these considerations are legitimate and compelling with respect to one area (where the guide requirement is in effect) but are not compelling (and are waived) in another, weakens the rational basis of the requirement. As a result, differential treatment of non-residents in different areas within the state is likely to expose Alaska's guide requirement to federal constitutional equal protection challenge. MR. KLUTSCH expressed understanding of Senator Seekins's goal in offering the bill, because there has been an absence of meaningful predator management in Alaska for over a decade and "we've seen the consequences in a number of the game management units." He stated his belief that if the Board of Game is left to its own devices to sort the issue out through traditional seasons, bag limits, and methods and means, eventually widespread public support will be garnered. He noted that that public support does not exist currently, which he said is a concern. He stated that the wholesale approach to harvesting bears doesn't seem to be wise at this time, because the risks outweigh the advantages. Number 1643 MR. KLUTSCH, in regard to Senator Seekins' remarks about the vulnerability of the "second degree of kindred," said the Senator makes a valid point. He suggested that the solution may be to revise the "second degree of kindred" provision, rather than rifting the guide requirement in its entirety. Mr. Klutsch concluded that this issue is critical, and said he hopes the committee will consider his comments. Number 1663 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked about Section 2, noting that it addresses the issue of bear hides and skulls. Number 1677 SENATOR SEEKINS offered his belief that, currently, a person cannot sell a grizzly bear hide in Alaska, but he/she can take it to Washington, for example, and sell it to someone who could then bring it back to Alaska. He also offered his understanding that the hides and "trophies" that are confiscated for being illegally taken are sold at auction during the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage. That revenue supplements the "fish and game fund." He suggested that [Section 2] provides a way for someone to donate a hide or skull back to [the ADF&G] to be sold; after the net proceeds are realized, the person could get up to 50 percent of that back, while the remainder would go either to the ADF&G or to a tax-exempt organization involved in conservation efforts. SENATOR SEEKINS, in response to a question, offered his belief that [Section 2] would allow the state to auction the items on eBay. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked how the language in the bill regarding of nonresidents and nonresident aliens will address the problem of bear predation on big game populations. SENATOR SEEKINS posited that that language will put more hunters in the field. He indicated that the price of hiring a big game guide to go after grizzly bear is $7,000- $10,000, and clarified that the intent of the bill is not to disrupt [the hiring of guides] in areas where the bear populations are within the population objectives. He reiterated the example of GMU 13, where there are up to 1,600 grizzly bears, but few guides actively pursuing those bears. He said that in many cases, the bears in that area are not the huge coastal brown bears that people are after, and it is a difficult area to access. Furthermore, big game guides cannot take nonresidents to hunt moose in that area, because the moose population has crashed to the point where only resident hunting is allowed. He noted that currently, there is a year-round bear season, [with a limit of] one bear a year, "no tag," in GMU 13, while in many other areas of the state the limit is one bear every four years. Relaxation of methods and means has not helped to reduce the bear population, he concluded. Number 1883 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH noted that Section 1, subsection (g), would require the department to provide a hunter safety course, but would not require the hunter to take that course. SENATOR SEEKINS directed attention to page 3, line 18, which states that the hunter must obtain a hunter safety certificate "under (g) of this section." In response to a follow-up question from Chair Weyhrauch, he confirmed that the hunter would have to pay for the course, so it would be "cost-neutral" [to the department]. Number 1920 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG directed attention to page 4, lines 9, 11, and 20. He suggested inserting the words "obtained from a designated intensive game management unit" after the words "legally taken bear hide or skull". CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said he thinks that inserting such language would defeat the purpose of the bill. He opined that Section 2 of the bill addresses a broader policy issue; it's not specifically an intensively managed game unit. SENATOR SEEKINS concurred, adding, "There are a lot of hides and skulls out there that maybe aren't even wanted anymore, but ... this could help them serve a good purpose." Number 1990 KAREN HOLT (ph) said: Let me begin by stating my wholehearted support for predator management and the intent of Senator Seekins. The concern I have, however, is the part of the legislation that allows individuals who are not licensed, registered guides to accompany a nonresident or nonresident alien bear hunter in the field. I've watched the evolution of the guiding industry during the past 20 years of my husband's career. As you probably know, an individual seeking registered guide status must apprentice in the field [and] take a written and practical exam showing proficiency before they can become licensed as a registered guide. And this process takes many years. After a guide is registered, they must maintain licensure and, prior to commence going into the field, comply with state laws requiring liability insurance and land-use authorization. These regulations are for the general public, they are for safety, and, most important, they are for a quality hunting experience. This bill is important, but I feel very strongly it needs to be amended for the safety [of] and concern for the general public. And to support the guiding industry, only licensed individuals should accompany those nonresident and nonresident alien bear hunters in the field. I feel this language, as currently written, just opens the door to too many individuals who have no interest in complying with the industry regulations the state has already decided [are] in the ... hunting public's best interest. MS. HOLT, in response to a question from Chair Weyhrauch, clarified that she is in Talkeetna and her husband is [working as a hunting guide] in Kodiak. Number 2075 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked if the concern is that allowing the "non-guides" to take people hunting will put the guides within those areas out of business. MS. HOLT answered, "Not necessarily; I think it could be a perception problem when you allow an individual who takes somebody out in the field." She clarified that she is not concerned about the person who takes a relative out, but is concerned about the person who wants to be a guide without going through all of the regulation requirements, apprenticing, and ensuring that the public's interest is put first. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked Ms. Holt if she thinks the section of the bill that wouldn't allow a person to accept money for services would control that situation. MS. HOLT answered no. She offered her understanding that the bill would allow the person to get reimbursed for expenses, adding that there's no way to control that [amount]. Number 2146 SENATOR SEEKINS referenced page 2, lines 27-31, which read in part: A resident who is not a registered guide or master guide may not receive any remuneration in excess of direct expenses incurred in accompanying the nonresident or nonresident alien to take a bear and may not accompany more than two nonresidents, regardless of whether they are aliens or not, during a calendar year to take a bear under this subsection. SENATOR SEEKINS said he wants to ensure that someone [who is not a registered guide] would not go into the guiding business. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked if there would be any penalties for violations. SENATOR SEEKINS answered that he hopes that issue would be addressed via regulation. Number 2196 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM offered his understanding that the intent of the bill is to induce people to help with predator control. He echoed Senator Seekins' previous remark that the guides are looking for the large animals, which are not necessarily in the areas where the predator control is needed. SENATOR SEEKINS directed attention to page 2, lines 25-27, which read in part: A registered guide or a master guide is not subject to any limitation on the number of nonresident or nonresident alien permittees that the guide may accompany for purposes of taking bear under this section. SENATOR SEEKINS said, "We've tried to also give some inducement for guides to take these nonresident permit holders into those same areas." REPRESENTATIVE HOLM remarked, "But they don't seem to be very supportive of that." SENATOR SEEKINS said he's tried to be sensitive to that. He continued: I do believe that we've tried to be very careful in raising the requirements for somebody to be able to do that - not [for] those of a registered guide, who [has] done all the things that the previous ... lady with testimony said. And I respect the fact that those master guides and registered guides have to go through a tremendous process. But we've taken the requirements for someone who is a resident above those requirements for a second-class guide who would work for that guide. A second class guide only has to be 19 years ... old, ... hunted big game in Alaska for two years, and have a Red Cross certificate. That's it. So we've tried to bring it to a higher standard than that, for that purpose. Number 2301 KARA BAKKEN CLEMENS (ph) encouraged the committee not to pass SB 297. She explained that the bill seems to be too extreme a measure, which risks harming the bear population. That population would be slow to recover from such a measure and is an important natural resource to hunters and to brown bear viewing and guiding services. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH asked for confirmation that the bill addresses the matter by individual game units. SENATOR SEEKINS answered, "Even by subunit in the game management unit, it can be done." SENATOR SEEKINS, in response to a question from Chair Weyhrauch, referred to AS 16.05.255(e), which he said is the statute that "controls the intensity of management trigger." He stated, "And those findings now - putting those areas into ... management - are in writing, and are based on biological information provided by the department." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH noted the term on page 1, line 9, "a cause", and questioned whether it should read, "substantial cause." SENATOR SEEKINS said, "First of all, ... it has to be in an area where human consumption is important." CHAIR WEYHRAUCH concluded, "So, ... you're linking your testimony in this bill back to these factors." SENATOR SEEKINS concurred. Number 2388 DAVE BACHRACH (ph) told the committee that he owns a wildlife viewing (indisc.). TAPE 04-77, SIDE B Number 2389 MR. BACHRACH said he has heard concerns expressed regarding hunter welfare and safety, and the potential legal risks and battles that could arise over [SB 297]. He offered his understanding that the bill does not exempt areas like Kodiak and Katmai; it is a statewide bill. He stated his belief that it should be up to the Board of Game to determine how "these things are managed," that the legislature shouldn't make those decisions. He noted that bear populations are slow to recover, and that older bears have been removed from the Alaska Peninsula, resulting in a generational gap. He indicated that the bill is both scientifically and economically unsound, and he asked that the committee consider that. Number 2321 CHRIS DAY, Co-owner, Emerald Air Service, Inc., told the committee that her company is a bear viewing operation that has, for the last 17 years, taken about 500 people a year to see brown bears. She stated her concerns regarding the bill. The first concern relates to safety. She emphasized that it's important for people hunting large predators to have an experienced [guide] with them. Second, she characterized the bill as a poor one "biologically." She referred to the previously stated "rough estimate" of the bear population and said that's an understatement. She admitted that she is not a biologist, but works with a lot of biologists and can state that it's difficult to count bears. She echoed Mr. Bachrach's testimony that bears are slow to recover, and she indicated that the effects of the bill may be to knock the population back too far. MS. DAY recommended looking at the state, in general, and where its dollars are made. She called tourism "an incredible industry in Alaska." Bears and wolves are top on the list of animals that people want to see when they come to Alaska. People also want to come to Alaska to hunt bears. She opined that the perception of the general public towards bills like [SB 297] is that [Alaska] has moved back into the Neanderthal Age. She stated: "The general public - nationwide and worldwide - look for Alaska to preserve the animals and the ecosystem up here; it's the Last Frontier. And I think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard." She emphasized again her concerns regarding the ramifications of [SB 297]. Number 2216 KEN DAY, Co-owner, Emerald Air Service, Inc., relayed that he was out in the field for years before starting his business, and that he used to see a healthy population of bears on the Alaska Peninsula. Over the last 10-12 years, that population began to decline rapidly. In areas where there used to be 6-8 large male bears daily, just last year there was one male bear spotted that weighed approximately 600 pounds. He indicated that the state harvest records on the peninsula show that 12 years ago, the average age of a bear taken out of the area was 16 years old. Before the last fall hunt, that average age was 3.8 years old. Biologists in the area are saying that the population is being decimated. Mr. Day said the same evidence has been presented to the Board of Game, but it has taken no action and still allows any hunter that wants to go into this area to hunt. He said he thinks [SB 297] would be just another measure to wipe out the bear population, and would be of benefit to hunters but not the state. Number 2135 PAT CARTER, Alaska Professional Hunter's Association, Inc. (APHA), stated that 98 percent of [Alaska's] guiding industry is comprised of residents, which is one of the highest resident percentages of any industry in the state. He noted that the guiding industry is roughly a $120- million-a-year industry. He continued as follows: While we agree with the need to actively manage all of our wildlife population, including predators, and we commend Senator Seekins for his efforts in that regard, we feel that this ... legislation - by including nonresident and nonresident aliens - is risking a lot. ... [The] APHA's legal council has extensive experience and expertise in this area, and I can't think of anybody that I would regard ... higher ..., with regard to his opinion on this. [Game Management] Unit 13, as Senator Seekins mentioned, has a large population of bears. We're not debating that; we're not debating the need to put more hunters in the field. What we're suggesting, though, is that it is ... very risky proposing to [alter] "guide required" [language] in order to do that. If we need to encourage hunters in the field, I don't think that it's sportsmen that are going to actually reduce the population. Speaking with the department yesterday, they mentioned that they had somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 bears in [GMU] 13. Their desired population is somewhere in the neighborhood of about 300. So, roughly speaking, we're talking about removing 1,000 bears out of that area. MR. CARTER estimated that the program proposed in SB 297 may result in only 30 bears being killed. He noted that predation of moose calves by bears is a learned behavior that all bears do not display. Therefore, if only 30 bears are killed, possibly only 2-5 of those bears will be the "problem bears." He questioned how many moose would be saved by doing something that is risking the guide industry of Alaska. He asked the committee to carefully consider "the great risk that we're taking here [with] ... the probability of having [a] minimal desired effect." Number 1983 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM asked what bears normally eat if they are not eating moose calves. MR. CARTER said bears eat squirrels, smaller game, ptarmigan, and berries. In response to a committee member, he said one of the APHA members was attacked by a bear. He emphasized that hunting for bears is a dangerous activity. Often when hunting bears, the decision is to not shoot. He offered an example of being in close proximity to alder trees and shooting a bear that disappears into those trees. He asked, "Who's going to go in there after them?" He indicated that one of his guides was pressured into doing so because he didn't want to wind up skinning a bear in the dark but paid dearly for it. MR. CARTER said [the APHA] would remove its opposition to the bill if the language regarding the nonresidents and nonresident aliens was removed, and other means of putting more hunters in the field were considered. He suggested that perhaps the take of the person donating a bear hide could be increased. Number 1877 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked if there would be any legal liability on the part of the department if it gave a permit to a nonqualified person and, as a result, the person who was guided got injured. MR. CARTER said he is not qualified to answer the question, but thinks it's a good one to ask. He shared that his earliest memories are of hunting and fishing with his father and grandfather, but he has never hunted bears. He said he has been approached by bears, but has never had to shoot one yet. He said he wouldn't feel qualified to take someone out in the field and pretend to be a guide, because bears are dangerous and, even though he is a resident, he would want to go with an experienced [guide]. Number 1812 MATT ROBUS, Director, Division of Wildlife Conservation, Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADF&G), stated that CSSB 297(RES) has some important improvements over the original bill. First is the change in approach from a way to use hunting to achieve predator control results to a true predation management program. The bill provides a boundary between two ways of taking bears, with hunting for trophy or food being the established way and depends on fair chase as an integral part of the practice. He continued as follows: This bill would authorize a program whereby the objective is not fair chase, but - in certain situations identified by the Board of Game, with information provided by the department - to reduce bear populations where bears of one or the other species are a predation problem for an ungulate population. And so, under the bill, non-ordinary methods of taking bears would be restricted to these areas where the Board of Game has developed a specific program to take care of a specific situation. And I think that that gets to some of the questions that members have asked prior to now about the scope of this. ... MR. ROBUS indicated that the bill's proposed program for bear predation management is similar to the department's existing program for wolf predation management, and it would allow the Board of Game to incorporate both wolves and bears in predation management implementation plans, which up until now has not really been possible. MR. ROBUS noted a second change in CSSB 297(RES) is the removal of methods and means language from the original bill. He relayed that the Board of Game adopted a bear management policy, which it had been working on for over a year, at its March meeting. It also adopted some associated regulations to allow the implementation of that program. He stated, "The way to get to unusual methods and means to stimulate additional bear harvest in areas where it's necessary for management purposes is largely already in place." The Board of Game, under those regulations, has the ability to custom tune those methods and means to the situation; therefore, the department considers it appropriate to have those decisions made at the Board of Game level and not have them incorporated into statute. MR. ROBUS clarified that the term "hunter safety course" does not refer to the standard hunter education course that the department already delivers. He explained that it would be some form of training that the department presents to address the situation of people going to take bears under one of the predation control permits. He said, "We don't know the exact shape of that yet, but we do want to make sure that people don't think it's just the standard elementary hunter education course." Number 1579 MR. ROBUS revealed that the department and the Board of Game have, for a long time, agreed that the first step in attempting to reduce bear numbers in a situation where that needs to be done is to liberalize the hunting rules and hope that that results in a higher level of bear take. He explained that that's predicated on the notion that to take more bears, it is usually necessary to put more hunters into the field. He noted that if in GMU 13, for example, a change is made from an 8-month bear season to a 12-month bear season, it won't make a difference if people aren't "attracted to taking bears." To that extent, he said, the department sees the nonresident [and nonresident alien] portion of the bill as an innovative approach to trying to put more people into the field. He said the guides raise a serious point, but since he is not an attorney, he is not prepared or qualified to say "what the true nature of that question is." He indicated that the focus of the department has been on the methods and means and the mechanism of the program itself. Number 1508 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked whether there would be any legal liability on the part of the department if it gave a permit to a nonqualified person and, as a result, the person who was guided got injured. MR. ROBUS responded that he is not qualified to answer that question and recommended that it be asked of the Department of Law (DOL). Number 1478 MR. ROBUS, in response to a question, said that he knows that in the current programs, the department is issuing permits only to residents, but he doesn't know if it is constrained to that. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON asked what the department's expectation is regarding the number of nonresident and nonresident aliens that will take advantage of the program but who would not otherwise have taken advantage of a guiding opportunity. MR. RUBUS said it would depend on how much or how little an area the Board of Game decides to identify as a bear predation management control area. He continued as follows: I think it's safe to say that we're generally not talking about a trophy bear area; we're talking about an area where the hunting regulations would have already been liberalized as far as possible. So, that means that residents would not need to buy a $25 resident tag to hunt bears there, in the case of brown bears. And of course, [for] black bears, residents hunt without charge everywhere. ... The fact that there might be additional methods and means allowed under a [Board of Game] program - for instance, you might be able to use an aircraft to access the area to begin your hunt, ... and if you do that on the same day, you cannot do that anywhere now - ... might attract more resident hunters. For nonresident hunters - ... to the extent that they're allowed to participate here - the attraction in the present bill would be for some limited parts of the nonresident community, like first-year military residents; for instance, not having to buy a brown bear nonresident tag. The whole guide fee question comes in here also. That could ... reduce somebody's costs pretty dramatically. So, depending [on] how that part of the bill ends up, it could attract an additional increment of nonresident ... bear takers, under these permits that would be issued, as opposed to a standard hunt. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON noted that there seem to be some questions regarding putting some of the guiding laws at risk. He said he wants to know whether the department thinks that there is a substantial benefit to this one provision, or whether the bill's other sections offer substantial enough benefit without that provision. MR. ROBUS said that's a difficult question and has to do with judgment and estimating the situation. He stated, "I think the lowered costs involved would be a significant attractant, but I think the changes to methods and means would be significant for all people participating ...." He explained that since it would be a predator control situation and fair chase is not the primary concern, people would be given an advantage that they don't normally have in getting to and taking bear. Number 1250 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said it has been suggested that the balance won't change significantly, because the bears are really not as large a contributor to the decimation of the moose population. He asked Mr. Robus to address that issue. MR. ROBUS answered that with all things biological, every situation is different and more complicated than first believed. He indicated that [some considerations are] whether habitat conditions will support a higher ungulate population than what currently exists, and whether information shows that predation is limiting an ungulate population. He said that in some cases, bears are extremely important in keeping an ungulate population suppressed. He mentioned a McGrath study that has been underway for the last decade, in which the department found that while wolves have been and continue to be a significant predator of moose calves, year round, bears are the major predator in the first few weeks of a calf's life. He noted that the department has relocated 100 bears out of a 500 square mile area last spring, as way of reducing the pressure on moose calves. He said that method was an experiment and can't be used very often. Number 1070 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG directed attention to subsection (e) on page 3, which would provide certain benefits only to people in the military, and questioned whether that would pose any constitutional equal protection problems. MR. ROBUS said he didn't know. Number 1021 REPRESENTATIVE LYNN noted that in subsection (e), "the military service" and "the United States Coast Guard" is listed separately. He offered his understanding that the U.S. Coast Guard was [part of] the military services. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said, "Except in time of war ...." He mentioned the Department of Transportation [& Public Facilities]. Number 0953 SCOTT J. NORDSTRAND, Deputy Attorney General, Civil Division, Office of the Attorney General, Department of Law (DOL), said he is not prepared to comment on equal protection issues regarding SB 297. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG reviewed that his two issues are the question of liability in subsection (d) and the question of constitutionality in subsection (e). He said he doesn't want the state getting into any legal problems. MR. NORDSTRAND responded, "I entirely agree with that." In regard to the question of permitting and licensing, he stated that he is not aware of any cases in the Civil Division during his tenure of 1.5 years that had to do with the state being sued over wrongfully permitting or licensing someone for some activity. REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG requested that he do further research regarding his concerns. Number 0881 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, in regard to [subsection (e)], noted that the military person would be allowed a permit at a lower age and could act as a resident in accompanying nonresidents and nonresident alien permittees to take bear. He asked, "Does that give us the same problems that Representative Gruenberg's talking about, or not?" MR. NORDSTRAND said he is not familiar enough with the bill to answer that question. In response to a comment from Representative Gruenberg, he said he would be happy to [look into those questions]. Number 0831 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said it seems to him that "you're" alluding to the fact that maybe people could take away their personal responsibility for their actions if the state licenses them. REPRESENTATIVES SEATON and GRUENBERG shook their heads no. REPRESENTATIVE HOLM said, "You know, you get a hunting license, you go out and shoot a bear that was in the alders, and you go in after him; it isn't the state's responsibility you made a stupid act." Number 0793 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG clarified that he just wants to know whether there would be any liability if the state were to license someone who then has some problems. Number 0753 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH announced that public testimony on SB 297 was closed. Number 0746 REPRESENTATIVE SEATON, in response to a request by Chair Weyhrauch, moved to adopt CSSB 297(RES) [as the work draft]. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected. [The question of whether to adopt CSSB 297(RES) as a work draft was resolved later in the meeting.] REPRESENTATIVE SEATON moved to adopt Amendment 1, which read as follows [original punctuation provided]: Page 2, line 21 -line 25 after the word "guide" and ending on the word "section." Delete all material Page 2, line 27, beginning of new sentence. "A... Through page 3, line 4, Delete all material Page 3, line 23-29 Delete all material Page 3, line 5-18 Delete all material Deleting the material basically deletes a non- resident's ability to take bear under these special circumstances without a big game guide. In all other situations we require big game guides for non-residents. Deleting his [sic] language conforms the bill to existing statutes and most likely removes most objections from game guides, who make their living from taking out non-residents. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH objected to Amendment 1. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON mentioned residents and methods and means, and said Amendment 1 would allows the good parts of the bill to go forward, but would simply eliminate the nonresident [and nonresident alien] section of the bill. Number 0660 SENATOR SEEKINS responded that almost the entire intent of the bill is to put more hunters in the field and there's nothing in the bill about methods and means. He said there are two choices: airborne hunting, or putting more hunters in the field. He said he chooses the latter. Number 0569 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG said it sounds like the department "felt that the goal was a valid management tool." He stated that the question becomes one of, who should the hunters be? SENATOR SEEKINS said guides would be limited to three areas into which they could bring an unlimited number [of people]. He reiterated the issue of GMU 13, and said he is trying to find the most acceptable method of reducing the bear population in the safest way possible. In response to a question from Representative Holm, he confirmed that he has studied biology. REPRESENTATIVE HOLM noted: "Sometimes empirical data does not translate from ... what we're looking for, for management tools. Many times [there are] genetic changes [and] many times we get unintended consequences because we ... depress on species and all of a sudden something else blooms and grows in a greater quantity someplace else." He stated that he thinks it's important to keep in mind that the ADF&G will be overseeing the process and will act to ensure that the program works. He said he thinks that's probably the best place to leave the analysis. Number 0320 SENATOR SEEKINS opined that "that's" important because one can't get to intensive management without that. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON reiterated that he thinks allowing unlimited guides in [those limited] areas is good, as is not requiring a person to buy a tag up front. He reiterated that his problem is in regard to the portion of the bill addressing nonresidents and nonresident aliens; he doesn't think that provision will constitute a significant aspect of what the bill is going to accomplish. He stated that his intent is to not destroy the program. He concluded: "If we're willing to put ... the requirements at risk for this benefit, for nonresidents and nonresident aliens being guided as well as ... residents and others, than so be it. But that's what the whole intent and the construction of this amendment is about." SENATOR SEEKINS said he respectfully disagrees. REPRESENTATIVE SEATON maintained his motion to adopt Amendment 1 [text provided previously]. Number 0199 CHAIR WEYHRAUCH said, "I'm going to withdraw my objection to having [CSSB 297(RES)] before us, so we can deal with the amendment." Number 0166 A roll call vote was taken. Representatives Gruenberg and Seaton voted in favor of Amendment 1. Representatives Lynn, Holm, and Weyhrauch voted against it. Therefore, Amendment 1 failed by a vote of 2-3. Number 0107 REPRESENTATIVE HOLM moved to report CSSB 297(RES) out of committee with individual recommendations and the accompanying fiscal notes. Number 0087 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG objected for discussion purposes. He requested that the Department of Law provide answers to his previously stated questions, so that that opinion can be made available to the next committee of referral. CHAIR WEYHRAUCH noted that the bill would be heard next in the House Resources Standing Committee. He said he thinks Representative Seaton made some good points during the discussion of Amendment 1, and stated his intent was to talk about the issues some more. He indicated concurrence with Representative Gruenberg's request. TAPE 04-78, SIDE A Number 0001 SENATOR SEEKINS, in response to a question from Representative Gruenberg, reviewed the previously covered subject of the second degree kindred rule. He illustrated that a ten-year-old who has never been in the field before could take his/her step-grandfather hunting. He said, "To me, that's the threat to the guide industry, rather than taking someone who's at least 21, has hunted big game for at least two years, has harvested big game, and has passed a course over at [the ADF&G] specifically toward safe hunting of grizzly bear." REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG asked, "Do you plan to do anything about the problem there?" SENATOR SEEKINS answered no. He said, "Quite frankly, I would prefer that that was expanded just a little bit, ... but I think that's even getting more dangerous." Number 0090 REPRESENTATIVE GRUENBERG withdrew his objection. There being no further objection, CSSB 297(RES) was reported out of the House State Affairs Standing Committee.