Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205

03/08/2010 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSSB 220(RES) Out of Committee
Moved CSSJR 27(RES) Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 274(RES) Out of Committee
Moved CSSB 208(RES) Out of Committee
Moved SB 144 Out of Committee
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
                    SB 144-MUSK OXEN PERMITS                                                                                
4:15:24 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE announced SB 144 to be up for consideration.                                                                   
4:16:01 PM                                                                                                                    
TIM  BENINTENDI,  staff to  Senator  Olson,  sponsor of  SB  144,                                                               
explained that the primary objective of  SB 144 is to authorize a                                                               
second permit hunt for residents  and subsistence hunters for the                                                               
taking of  musk oxen in  Alaska. It  would double the  chances of                                                               
taking an animal but it would  not change the bag limit, which is                                                               
currently one animal per year,  either a bull or cow. Nonresident                                                               
hunters would not qualify. If a  hunter did not harvest a musk ox                                                               
under their  first permit, a  second permit could be  issued upon                                                               
application for another  chance in a different hunting  area or a                                                               
different  game unit.  Musk oxen  are  the only  game animals  in                                                               
Alaska to which the one permit restriction still applies.                                                                       
There  are four  game management  units where  these animals  are                                                               
found  in Alaska:  Unit 18  on both  Nunivak and  Nelson Islands,                                                               
Units 22  and 23  on the Seward  Peninsula and  Northwest Alaska,                                                               
and Unit  26 in the northeast.  The wild musk oxen  population in                                                               
Alaska is currently estimated to  be about 4400 and annually 325-                                                               
350 are available for harvest.                                                                                                  
Wildlife biologists  and regulators within the  Alaska Department                                                               
of Fish and  Game (ADF&G) have determined that the  health of the                                                               
herd  and  the size  of  the  state's  herd  is well  passed  the                                                               
threshold for expanding opportunities  for Alaskan hunters. State                                                               
biologists estimate  that a nominal number  of additional permits                                                               
would  be issued  under this  bill  and perhaps  25 more  animals                                                               
might be harvested annually.                                                                                                    
Under  SB 144  the  Board of  Game would  have  the authority  to                                                               
reduce  or eliminate  subsistence tag  and fee  requirements, and                                                               
the  department  could  issue   subsistence  permits  beyond  the                                                               
current  calendar   year  basis  to  accommodate   seasons  which                                                               
straddle two calendar years. For  example, there is a season that                                                               
runs  from August  1 to  March  15. A  year would  change from  a                                                               
calendar year to a regulatory year, which is July 1 - June 30.                                                                  
If passed this  legislative session, the new  provisions would be                                                               
in place  for the season  beginning August  of this year.  SB 144                                                               
has a zero fiscal note and  has the support of the department and                                                               
the  hunting  community  in Northwest  Alaska.  It  includes  the                                                               
Northern and  Southern Norton Sound  Advisory Committees  and the                                                               
Seward Peninsula  Musk Ox Cooperators  Group. They have  found no                                                               
opposition to the bill.                                                                                                         
4:18:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI asked the  rationale behind the prohibition                                                               
of going out more than once.                                                                                                    
MR. BENINTENDI  answered that it's  due to game  population size.                                                               
All other species are under a  multiple permit basis and now that                                                               
the department  is comfortable with  the herd's numbers,  musk ox                                                               
can be brought into that dynamic.                                                                                               
4:19:23 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR HUGGINS  asked if  there is  a priority  between resident                                                               
and subsistence hunters.                                                                                                        
MR. BENINTENDI said that getting a  permit depends on the date of                                                               
SENATOR  HUGGINS said  some states  have  incentives whereby  the                                                               
governor would have a musk ox tag  that he could use as a funding                                                               
raising mechanism to raise hundreds  of thousands of dollars. Had                                                               
he had any discussions along that line?                                                                                         
MR. BENINTENDI answered no.                                                                                                     
4:20:44 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR OLSON,  sponsor of SB 144,  said the bill was  brought to                                                               
him by  the local fish  and game personnel who  noticed confusion                                                               
amongst the harvesters. There is  no difference between residents                                                               
and subsistence users.  It's whoever comes first.  Once the quota                                                               
is filled they would close  the season. Because of that confusion                                                               
people are  worried about getting  their guns  confiscated, going                                                               
to jail and having those kinds  of penalties. This would make the                                                               
law a lot clearer.                                                                                                              
He said  that one of  the reasons  there is a  difference between                                                               
other  big  game animals  and  musk  ox  is  that musk  ox,  like                                                               
reindeer, were  imported. The ones  on the Seward  Peninsula came                                                               
from Nunivak and the ones  in Nunivak originally came from Canada                                                               
and  Greenland. The  government  has an  interest in  maintaining                                                               
those populations  because they invested  money to get  them into                                                               
different areas.  Right now the  stocks on the  Seward Peninsula,                                                               
especially, have gotten  to the level where they  could sustain a                                                               
4:22:05 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR STEDMAN joined the committee.                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR WIELECHOWSKI moved to report  SB 144 from committee with                                                               
individual  recommendations and  attached  fiscal note(s).  There                                                               
were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                                       
4:23:30 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR MCGUIRE  found no  further business  to come  before the                                                               
committee and adjourned the meeting at 4:23 p.m.                                                                                

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