Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

03/23/2018 03:30 PM RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
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= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Heard & Held
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled: TELECONFERENCED
Moved SB 176 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
         HB 105-TAKING WOLVES NEAR DENALI PARK;TRAPPING                                                                     
3:38:05 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL called  the meeting  back to  order and  announced                                                               
consideration  of HB  105. [CSHB  105(FIN), version  30-LS0408\R,                                                               
was before the committee.]                                                                                                      
3:38:31 PM                                                                                                                    
THOMAS  ATKINSON, Chief  of  Staff  to Representative  Josephson,                                                               
Alaska State  Legislature, Juneau,  Alaska, provided  an overview                                                               
of HB  105 for the sponsor.  He said this bill  would close areas                                                               
that have been  closed before by the Board of  Game. Violation of                                                               
the  closure must  be negligent  to  be actionable.  That is  the                                                               
standard  used throughout  other  Alaska Department  of Fish  and                                                               
Game (ADF&G)  statutes. He explained that  the term "negligently"                                                               
in  subsection  (c)  on  page 2,  is  provable  and  enforceable,                                                               
whereas "intentionally" would be hard to prove.                                                                                 
3:39:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ATKINSON said  the National  Park Service  (NPS) has  a wolf                                                               
sighting  index and  it indicates  that  sightings have  declined                                                               
rapidly  and dramatically  over  the past  decade.  Wolves are  a                                                               
major tourist draw  to the area. The Board of  Game established a                                                               
buffer zone  in Denali's eastern  boundary, which existed  for 10                                                               
years, during which  time there were more  sightings. However, in                                                               
2014,  less than  6 percent  of park  visitors were  able to  see                                                               
wolves,  a  decrease from  45  percent  when  the Board  of  Game                                                               
imposed a  closure. Wolf populations  in Denali have  declined in                                                               
numbers from 116 in spring of 2006 to 50 in the spring of 2014.                                                                 
3:40:24 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP asked who is doing the wolf counts.                                                                              
MR.  ATKINSON answered  just the  Alaska Department  of Fish  and                                                               
Game (ADF&G).                                                                                                                   
SENATOR BISHOP  asked if the  National Park Service  was involved                                                               
with any of the wolf counts.                                                                                                    
MR.  ATKINSON   replied  he  was   uncomfortable  giving   him  a                                                               
definitive answer  on that, but the  figures he has are  from the                                                               
ADF&G, and it's  his understanding that is where  the counts come                                                               
To protect wolves for future  Alaskans and visitors, HB 105 would                                                               
prohibit  wolf hunting  and  trapping in  two  areas adjacent  to                                                               
Denali National  Park &  Preserve: The  Wolf Townships  (AKA: the                                                               
Stampede Trail) and the Nenana Canyon.                                                                                          
MR. ATKINSON  said new  information (on  slide 3)  indicates that                                                               
five  radio-collared wolves  from  the Denali  packs were  killed                                                               
outside of the park in the  Stampede Corridor this winter, one of                                                               
the proposed closure  areas. The collar was  destroyed. This wolf                                                               
was commonly  seen along the park  road and had a  role in 2017's                                                               
higher  viewing rate.  Two wolves  from the  Comb pack  were also                                                               
harvested  in the  Stampede  Corridor; one  wolf  from the  Eagle                                                               
Creek  pack was  harvested in  the  Nenana Canyon,  which is  the                                                               
other  geographical  area that  the  bill  proposes to  close  to                                                               
taking  of wolves;  and one  dispersed wolf  from the  Iron Creek                                                               
pack was harvested near Delta.                                                                                                  
3:42:15 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL asked what "dispersed wolf" means.                                                                                
MR. ATKINSON  replied that it  means the  wolf is no  longer with                                                               
the pack.                                                                                                                       
SENATOR COGHILL asked  him to verify that  "harvested" could mean                                                               
anywhere  from  shooting to  trapping  and  that  it is  done  by                                                               
someone who is known to report.                                                                                                 
MR. ATKINSON  answered "harvested" means  any method of  take; it                                                               
could conceivably  be done  with a bow  and arrow,  although that                                                               
would be difficult.                                                                                                             
SENATOR COGHILL  explained the  reason for  his question  is that                                                               
one  of the  collared wolves  was killed  and he  wondered if  an                                                               
automobile had run over it and if that distinction is made.                                                                     
3:43:19 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON replied  that Senator Coghill made a  good point and                                                               
that "have been  killed" doesn't necessarily mean  by someone who                                                               
was intending to kill.                                                                                                          
MR. ATKINSON  explained that the reason  Representative Josephson                                                               
introduced the bill  is because wildlife viewing  has an economic                                                               
benefit  to the  state according  to the  U.S. Fish  and Wildlife                                                               
Service (USFWS).  The latest  information indicates  total direct                                                               
expenditures by  wildlife viewers  in the  United States  in 2011                                                               
was $54.9 billion .                                                                                                             
3:44:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON said slide 5  broke out economic impacts of wildlife                                                               
viewing in Alaska.  In 2011, it was  $2,059,000,000, which helped                                                               
create 40,000-plus jobs, $1.5 billion  in wages and salaries, and                                                               
some  state and  local tax  revenues  and even  more federal  tax                                                               
revenues.  Alaska is  in  the top-10  states  ranked by  economic                                                               
output for wildlife viewing.                                                                                                    
3:45:13 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR VON IMHOF asked if  this figure was aggregated to include                                                               
cruise ship passengers looking at sea otters.                                                                                   
MR. ATKINSON  said yes,  adding that  they do  know a  great many                                                               
visitors from  outside Alaska  do have  Denali National  Park and                                                               
Preserve (DNPP) on their "To See  List" when they come to Alaska,                                                               
and most of the time they want to see wildlife.                                                                                 
SENATOR VON IMHOF  asked if there is a checklist  that asks which                                                               
animals people would like to see.                                                                                               
MR. ATKINSON  replied yes,  and that  visitors tell  the National                                                               
Park Service when  they go to Denali they want  to see wolves. He                                                               
offered to follow up on that.                                                                                                   
SENATOR VON IMHOF  commented that a checklist like  that would be                                                               
a key  piece of information  since tourism  is gaining as  one of                                                               
the state's "bright spots."                                                                                                     
3:47:27 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON went  to slide 5 called "The Buffer  Zone," and said                                                               
to protect wolves  for future Alaskans and  visitors from outside                                                               
Alaska  (a  lot  of  Alaskans  go to  Denali  National  Park  and                                                               
Preserve, also), HB 105 would  prohibit wolf hunting and trapping                                                               
in two areas  adjacent to the Park and Preserve:  one is the Wolf                                                               
Townships in  the northeast corner  where state land juts  out to                                                               
the west  into the park and  the Nenana Canyon on  the other side                                                               
of the highway running north/south.                                                                                             
3:48:39 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON  said slide  6 had  a map  showing the  "wolf buffer                                                               
zone." He explained  the bill does not propose to  close the area                                                               
south of Cantwell.                                                                                                              
CHAIR GIESSEL noted that was the cross-hatched section.                                                                         
SENATOR COGHILL asked if downtown Healy was included.                                                                           
MR. ATKINSON answered yes.                                                                                                      
SENATOR   COGHILL  remarked   that  including   Healy  could   be                                                               
problematic for public safety.                                                                                                  
CHAIR GIESSEL  asked if Cantwell  is encompassed by  the proposed                                                               
MR. ATKINSON  answered that  Cantwell is  not encompassed  by the                                                               
proposed closure area.                                                                                                          
3:50:22 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON said  a resolution of support was  received from the                                                               
Fairbanks  North Star  Borough and  that he  included the  map on                                                               
slide 7 because it shows the utilization of the area by wolves.                                                                 
3:51:12 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said  he appreciated that and  asked Mr. Atkinson                                                               
if he had  compared the wolf sightings with the  sightings of the                                                               
other  animals, because  wolf density  probably has  a lot  to do                                                               
with  animals they  prey upon  like  moose and  caribou. So,  the                                                               
density of both wolves and prey should be counted.                                                                              
MR.  ATKINSON  answered  no,  but that  two  biologists  who  are                                                               
invited testifiers could better answer that question.                                                                           
3:52:30 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. ATKINSON went to slides 8  and 9, a sectional analysis of the                                                               
only section in the bill that  prohibits the taking of wolves and                                                               
the  use  of certain  traps  and  snares  in the  specific  areas                                                               
adjacent to DNPP. It  says a person may not take a  wolf or use a                                                               
cable snare with a diameter greater  than 3/32 inch or a leg-hold                                                               
trap  with  a  jaw-spread  greater   than  5  inches  within  the                                                               
boundaries described.                                                                                                           
He explained that  this very specific language was  arrived at in                                                               
consultation with  ADF&G biologists  who told them  what trappers                                                               
typically  use for  taking wolves  as opposed  to other  animals.                                                               
They typically don't use traps of  this size or larger for taking                                                               
smaller animals.  Nothing in this  section could be  construed to                                                               
prevent the department  from taking or authorizing  the taking of                                                               
wolves that  present a danger  to the  health or safety  of local                                                               
residents, which  might address  Senator Coghill's  concern about                                                               
Healy,  although he  didn't want  to state  definitively that  it                                                               
does.  He added  that a  person who  negligently violates  (a) of                                                               
this section is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.                                                                                
3:54:01 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked how long it  takes for a wolf  to die                                                               
when its caught in a cable snare or a leg-hold trap.                                                                            
MR. ATKINSON answered that he did not know.                                                                                     
3:54:50 PM                                                                                                                    
MR.  ATKINSON  said  HB  105 wouldn't  affect  the  six  per-year                                                               
subsistence federal  quota within  the DNPP.  He added  that sub-                                                               
unit 20(A)  is much  larger than the  proposed closure  area. So,                                                               
closing  the  Wolf  Townships  wouldn't  necessarily  reduce  the                                                               
subsistence opportunities  elsewhere in  that sub-unit.  When the                                                               
Board of Game closed the Townships  to wolf take between 2000 and                                                               
2010, no one challenged that closure based on subsistence.                                                                      
3:55:39 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR VON IMHOF  asked who brought this issue  to the sponsor's                                                               
MR.  ATKINSON replied  that  Representative Josephson  introduced                                                               
this bill before he was working for  him and he did not know that                                                               
3:56:20 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL opened invited testimony on HB 105.                                                                               
3:56:42 PM*                                                                                                                   
RICK  STEINER,   conservation  biology   consultant  representing                                                               
himself, Anchorage,  Alaska, testified in  support of HB  105. He                                                               
was  a  professor  at  the  University of  Alaska  for  30  years                                                               
stationed  in  the Arctic,  Prince  William  Sound, and  then  in                                                               
Anchorage; he is now a conservation biology consultant.                                                                         
He said this should be "an  easy yes vote." For years, the Denali                                                               
wolf  buffer  has  been entangled  in  this  ideological  dispute                                                               
between those  who object in  principle to federal  management in                                                               
parks  and  refuges  versus  those   who  love  parks,  watchable                                                               
wildlife, and natural  undisturbed ecosystems. He said  HB 105 is                                                               
not about  any of  that and  encouraged the  committee to  try to                                                               
disentangle that  ideological context and  reframe it as  what it                                                               
is: 1.  What is best  for the economy of  Alaska; and 2.  What is                                                               
best  for the  majority of  the  people of  Alaska. Through  that                                                               
lens, HB 105 would be a clear yes vote.                                                                                         
MR. STEINER noted a number of undisputed and very clear facts:                                                                  
     1.  Denali  generates  over  $600  million  a  year  in                                                                    
     visitor spending. It is  Alaska's most valuable tourism                                                                    
     resource and viewing of wildlife  is clearly one of the                                                                    
     main reasons for such visitation to Denali.                                                                                
     2.  Denali has  been the  easiest place  in Alaska  for                                                                    
     people to go  see wolves in their  natural habitat, and                                                                    
     it  used to  be  one of  the best  such  places in  the                                                                    
     world,  but  it  is  not   anymore,  and  that  is  due                                                                    
     primarily   to    state-permitted   take    along   the                                                                    
     3. It  is clear  that park  wolves cross  the northeast                                                                    
     boundary  and return  in the  spring following  caribou                                                                    
     primarily and are taken by  sport hunters and trappers.                                                                    
     On  average  only four  or  five  are taken  each  year                                                                    
     across  the boundary,  but  already  this winter,  five                                                                    
     collared park wolves have been  taken. Given that there                                                                    
     are four  times as many  uncollared wolves in  the park                                                                    
     as uncollared, it's a virtual  certainty that many more                                                                    
     uncollared wolves were taken  outside the park as well,                                                                    
     and the season remains open until the end of April.                                                                        
     4.  Science is  clear that  even a  low-level take  can                                                                    
     cause  a disproportionate  impact on  the eastern  park                                                                    
     wolf  groups  and  thus visitor  viewing  success.  For                                                                    
     example,  in  2012, the  last  pregnant  female in  the                                                                    
     Grant Creek group was trapped.  It didn't have pups; it                                                                    
     did not  den; and  the group disintegrated  and visitor                                                                    
     viewing success  dropped by  about half  that following                                                                    
     season.  The same  phenomenon  occurred  with the  East                                                                    
     Pack in  2015/16: what science has  called the "breeder                                                                    
     loss  effect"   where  essentially  the  take   of  one                                                                    
     important breeding wolf along  the boundary could cause                                                                    
     a  significant  loss  in  the  integrity  of  a  group,                                                                    
     dispersion,  and  a  drop in  the  consequent  drop  in                                                                    
     visitor viewing success.                                                                                                   
     5. Wolf  viewing success has  declined from  45 percent                                                                    
     when the buffer  existed to 4-6 percent  for a 4-5-year                                                                    
     period,  and last  year increased  a little  bit to  16                                                                    
     percent, but  it is still  far below the 45  percent it                                                                    
     had with  a buffer.  Much of  that visitor  success was                                                                    
     from  the collared  Wiley Creek  male  that was  killed                                                                    
     this winter  in the  Stampede Corridor. That  alone can                                                                    
     lead to the visitor viewing success rate this summer.                                                                      
     6.  In Yellowstone,  for comparison,  45-85 percent  of                                                                    
     the  visitors have  wolf viewing  success and  the wolf                                                                    
     viewing economy there is valued at $35 million a year.                                                                     
     Science  has shown  very clearly  that  a small  closed                                                                    
     area along the northeast  boundary, such as proposed in                                                                    
     HB 105, will help protect  the eastern park wolf groups                                                                    
     most  seen  by  visitors.  That  would  correspondingly                                                                    
     increase   visitor  viewing   success  and   ultimately                                                                    
     increase the wildlife viewing economy at the park.                                                                         
     7. The closed area would  impact only a few local sport                                                                    
     hunters and trappers who  can relocate their activities                                                                    
     to two  miles away. But  it would benefit up  to 70,000                                                                    
     Alaska  citizens  and  over half  million  out-of-state                                                                    
     visitors  who visit  the park  annually,  many of  whom                                                                    
     want to see wolves in the wild.                                                                                            
     8. The  closed area  is broadly supported  by Alaskans,                                                                    
     the  Fairbanks   North  Star  Borough,   many  wildlife                                                                    
     tourism   advocacy   organizations,   several   hundred                                                                    
     thousand  people who  signed  an  online petition,  and                                                                    
     countless other efforts to try to secure this buffer.                                                                      
     9. The  cost benefit  is clearly and  overwhelmingly in                                                                    
     favor of the bill.                                                                                                         
MR. STEINER said based on  these facts, the question becomes what                                                               
state policy should  be. Clearly, a rational  government would do                                                               
everything it could to restore,  sustain, and enhance this multi-                                                               
million-dollar  economic  resource.  HB  105 will  help  this  by                                                               
simply  keeping these  few  animals from  being  taken along  the                                                               
boundary of  the park allowing  them to remain alive  for visitor                                                               
viewing in the park.                                                                                                            
He also questioned whether 6 million  acres in the park is enough                                                               
in which to  take wolves. In fact, 4 million  acres of Denali are                                                               
open  to  wolf take  and  only  2  million  are closed  (the  Old                                                               
McKinley Park).  Secondly, too much  of Alaska is  already closed                                                               
to hunting and trapping. Less than  3 percent of Alaska is closed                                                               
to wolf  take: the pre-ANILCA  parks, the Denali and  Katmai. So,                                                               
the  question should  be:  isn't  97 percent  of  Alaska and  350                                                               
million acres open to wolf hunting and trapping enough?                                                                         
MR. STEINER  concluded that some folks  have said this is  just a                                                               
gift  to the  federal government  and the  Park Service,  when in                                                               
fact, it is a gift to the people and the economy of Alaska.                                                                     
4:05:03 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR BISHOP asked what the  typical square-mile range is for a                                                               
wolf pack.                                                                                                                      
MR. STEINER answered  that it depends; in areas  around Denali it                                                               
could be 50-70 square miles.                                                                                                    
4:05:45 PM                                                                                                                    
VIC  VAN BALLENBERGHE,  representing himself,  Anchorage, Alaska,                                                               
testified  in support  HB 105.  He  was appointed  to the  Alaska                                                               
Board of Game  three times and is a wildlife  biologist in Alaska                                                               
since 1974.  It's important to ask  the basic question of  why we                                                               
are here. The answer is  because there is an important unresolved                                                               
problem that  has existed  for decades: the  state of  Alaska has                                                               
not provided  a small  number of wolves  in Denali  with adequate                                                               
protection  from hunting  and trapping  when they  travel outside                                                               
the park. Lacking this protection,  when these wolves are shot or                                                               
trapped, hundreds of  thousands of park visitors  are deprived of                                                               
the  opportunity to  see  and hear  wolves,  putting millions  of                                                               
dollars of tourism revenue at risk.                                                                                             
This is not just a wildlife issue;  it is in the best interest of                                                               
the State  of Alaska. The Alaska  Board of Game has  debated this                                                               
issue numerous times since 1992  when the first protective buffer                                                               
was  adopted. Between  2000-2010,  the board  on seven  occasions                                                               
took  major   actions  to  create  buffers   and  defended  their                                                               
boundaries. Each time  required a large effort by  the board, its                                                               
support staff,  the ADF&G,  and the  Department of  Public Safety                                                               
(DPS) to  provide input.  And each  time hundreds  of individuals                                                               
provided  written  comments  and  oral testimony  to  the  board.                                                               
Numerous  organizations   representing  hunters,   trappers,  and                                                               
conservation organizations also provided input.                                                                                 
MR. VAN  BALLENBERGHE said he  was on the  board in 2002  when it                                                               
created a protective  buffer adjacent to the  northeast corner of                                                               
the  park.  Several times  in  previous  years, wolf  packs  were                                                               
severely reduced or eliminated in  this area by legal and illegal                                                               
hunting  and   trapping.  The   board  thoroughly   debated  this                                                               
proposal,  amended,  and passed  it.  He  knows how  much  effort                                                               
accompanied  this  action  and  how difficult  it  was  to  reach                                                               
consensus. He  also knows that  no less effort was  required each                                                               
of the  other six times  the board addressed this  issue. Despite                                                               
their best  efforts, over time,  the protective buffers  were too                                                               
small, and wolves continued to be lost.                                                                                         
In  2010,  the National  Park  Service  and several  conservation                                                               
organizations  submitted proposals  to the  board to  enlarge the                                                               
buffers based on  the best available data.  Despite strong public                                                               
support,  the   board  not  only  rejected   the  proposals,  but                                                               
eliminated  the existing  buffers. During  the past  seven years,                                                               
with  no  buffers  in  place, the  problems  have  worsened  with                                                               
sightings of wolves along the park road dropping greatly.                                                                       
From  1980 to  2017,  he conducted  wildlife  research in  Denali                                                               
National Park  keeping records of  wolf sightings along  the park                                                               
road in  his study. During those  years when the wolf  packs were                                                               
not  disrupted by  hunting and  trapping he  saw wolves  near the                                                               
road a lot  and often dozens of sightings. During  the years when                                                               
the packs  were disrupted,  there were few  if any  sightings. He                                                               
experienced these  differences first hand. Clearly,  the Board of                                                               
Game has  demonstrated that it  cannot and will not  resolve this                                                               
important  issue.  It  is  time  to  finally  provide  a  lasting                                                               
solution by moving  the Game Board arena to  the legislature, and                                                               
HB 105 will accomplish that.                                                                                                    
4:10:27 PM                                                                                                                    
NANCY BALE,  advocate, Denali Citizens Council  (DCC), Anchorage,                                                               
Alaska, testified in  support of HB 105. She has  been a resident                                                               
of Alaska since  1971 and spent the first 30  years as a resident                                                               
of the  Denali region. She and  her husband developed one  of the                                                               
last  homesteads  left in  Denali  Park  when the  Alaska  Native                                                               
Claims  Settlement  Act  (ANCSA)  selections  began.  They  spent                                                               
winters there and  lived and worked in the Kantishna  area in the                                                               
summers for  over 23 years.  In 1996, she graduated  from nursing                                                               
school and moved to Anchorage.                                                                                                  
In 2000,  she joined the  board of the Denali  Citizen's Council.                                                               
Many  of their  300  members are  year-round  local residents  in                                                               
Healy,  McKinley  Village,  and  Cantwell;  others  are  seasonal                                                               
employees who benefit from the  opportunity to share the national                                                               
park with  roughly a half-million  visitors yearly. DCC  has been                                                               
one  of   the  organizations  over   the  years   that  supported                                                               
protection of  Denali wolves  when they  have been  ventured onto                                                               
state lands outside the park  and supported the board closures of                                                               
these  areas in  2002 through  2010. They  have brought  numerous                                                               
proposals and initiatives before the Board of Game.                                                                             
In the  1980s, radio collaring  allowed scientists to  learn much                                                               
more about  pack structure, territories, and  movements. The wolf                                                               
program  at  Denali is  unique  in  the  state and  has  provided                                                               
valuable data  to the  scientific community  as well  as learning                                                               
experiences  for park  visitors.  Through the  Murie Science  and                                                               
Learning Center,  park scientists are  able to share  the results                                                               
of  a lot  of that  information  with park  guests. In  addition,                                                               
Denali's  wolf  program  has encouraged  cooperation  among  both                                                               
state and federal scientists.                                                                                                   
One clear  result of these studies  has been to show  that wolves                                                               
who  den in  the park  predictably visit  certain areas  of state                                                               
lands at  the northeast corner,  particularly in late  winter and                                                               
spring,  but   return  to  the   park  for  denning   and  summer                                                               
activities.  Certainly, some  of these  wolves disperse  entirely                                                               
away, but  radio location data  conducted over decades  has shown                                                               
that many venture out and return.  These wolves are the ones that                                                               
are the greatest risk of  death from trapping and hunting outside                                                               
the park. Add  to this the ease of highway  access on these lands                                                               
and  the long  hunting/trapping  seasons lasting  from August  10                                                               
through May  31 in most  areas, and  in some areas  through April                                                               
15, and  the risk is  increased. Such risk concentrated  in these                                                               
areas is  what has lead to  the development of the  map. Although                                                               
hunting and trapping of wolves can  occur in the preserves and in                                                               
the  Alaska National  Interest  Lands  Conservation Act  (ANILCA)                                                               
park additions - 2 million acres  north and 2 million acres south                                                               
- and the preserves in the northwest and southwest.                                                                             
HB 105  is only asking  for a no-kill  area on those  state lands                                                               
northeast of  the parks as this  is where the human  harvest risk                                                               
is concentrated. The overall population  of wolves in the area is                                                               
not threatened but  they also know that just a  few deaths can be                                                               
significant for both scientific study and visitor experience.                                                                   
MS. BALE said  the Denali Citizens' Council board  has a decades-                                                               
long history of residing and  working in the region. Some members                                                               
live in  the Stampede Corridor  and the Nenana Canyon,  the areas                                                               
scheduled for  closure. Many are  hunters and they do  not oppose                                                               
hunting  or trapping.  They simply  view the  closure as  a great                                                               
benefit with a relatively small cost to consumptive uses.                                                                       
The area within the Stampede  Corridor is in Game Management Unit                                                               
20(C)  and the  Nenana Canyon  area  is in  Game Management  Unit                                                               
20(A), and the  very southern tip of that area  is in Unit 13(E).                                                               
In these  areas, hunting season  lasts between August 10  and May                                                               
31 and  is closed on April  15 within the Stampede  Corridor. The                                                               
bag limit is 10 wolves per  hunter. The trapping season goes from                                                               
November  1  to April  30  with  an  unlimited bag  limit.  These                                                               
liberal  bag  limits  and  hunting   seasons  and  the  unlimited                                                               
trapping numbers create  a great risk when the time  is right for                                                               
certain wolves to  be captured and to be  unavailable for science                                                               
and the  enjoyment of  visitors in  the park.  She urged  them to                                                               
pass HB 105.                                                                                                                    
4:17:33 PM                                                                                                                    
JOEL BENNETT, representing himself,  Juneau, Alaska, testified in                                                               
support of HB 105. He said  his primary employment now is in film                                                               
and television, but he was  a Legislative Affairs Agency attorney                                                               
for nine  years specializing in natural  resources law, including                                                               
fish and game. He also served on  the Alaska Board of Game for 13                                                               
years.  In  his  work,  he has  traveled  extensively  in  Denali                                                               
National Park as  well as in countless other remote  areas of the                                                               
state. As a resource user, he  has been an active licensed hunter                                                               
in the state every year since 1968.                                                                                             
Over the years,  there have been many efforts  to reach agreement                                                               
on what  is best for wildlife  and what is best  for Alaska. Wolf                                                               
management  has  always  been  a  challenging  and  controversial                                                               
subject, but the  issue that HB 105 addresses should  not be. Mr.                                                               
Bennett  with previous  testimony that  HB 105  is not  a hunting                                                               
issue; it  is an economic  one. In  certain limited areas  of the                                                               
state, the highest and best  interest of wildlife is for tourism;                                                               
it is a huge economic driver.                                                                                                   
Denali National  Park is one  of the most popular  national parks                                                               
in the nation and includes visits  by tens of thousands of Alaska                                                               
residents  a year.  Anything that  adversely impacts  one of  the                                                               
main things visitors  come to see there should  be minimized. The                                                               
restrictions that HB 105 would  impose are limited to wolves only                                                               
and will  likely result in  more wolves for Denali  National Park                                                               
visitors  to  view  while  only  displacing  a  few  hunters  and                                                               
trappers who have ample opportunities elsewhere.                                                                                
MR.  BENNETT said  the  Board  of Game  recognized  this when  on                                                               
several occasions it created buffer  areas for wolves in the very                                                               
areas that  HB 105  covers. After that,  wolf viewing  success in                                                               
the  park was  high.  Now,  with no  buffer  areas, wolf  viewing                                                               
success is the  lowest it has ever been. Passage  of HB 105 could                                                               
change this.                                                                                                                    
When Jay Hammond  appointed him to the Board of  Game in 1977, he                                                               
encouraged him to  do what is best for the  resource, but also as                                                               
a  hunter and  wildlife  advocate to  look at  both  sides of  an                                                               
issue.  He  respects the  values  of  different user  groups  and                                                               
recognizes  that some  areas deserve  special protection  and, in                                                               
some areas, hunting and trapping should be restricted.                                                                          
MR. BENNETT  said he believes  that Jay Hammond, an  early master                                                               
guide and  hunting defender,  would have examined  HB 105  on its                                                               
merits,  waived the  cost  benefit  to the  state,  and seen  the                                                               
wisdom  of  protecting  wolves   in  these  two  sensitive  areas                                                               
adjacent to Denali  National Park. In the spirit  of Jay Hammond,                                                               
one  of Alaska's  most visionary  public servants,  he urged  the                                                               
committee to support HB 105.                                                                                                    
4:22:13 PM                                                                                                                    
RYAN HARMS,  representing himself,  Juneau, Alaska,  testified on                                                               
HB 105 and said he didn't have a  position on it. When he came to                                                               
Alaska he lived in Healy,  specifically on the Stampede Corridor.                                                               
He  was a  bartender for  several years  and some  of his  family                                                               
still live there.                                                                                                               
He offered  his as a voice  "of the tourist that  isn't here." In                                                               
the years that he worked in  Denali National Park, primarily as a                                                               
bar tender,  and then later  as a  teacher, he saw  many tourists                                                               
who loved seeing  the wildlife in general, but  they would really                                                               
glow when  they talked about  seeing wolves.  He only saw  one in                                                               
the years he lived there (2004-2009)  and it was an elated moment                                                               
for him. He has seen many  bears and sheep everywhere, but wolves                                                               
are  almost  majestic in  the  sense  that  you don't  see  them.                                                               
"Without question, tourists love to see wolves," he said.                                                                       
As far  as public safety, Mr.  Harms said, the only  thing he has                                                               
seen in  the Healy region  is the unintended harming  of domestic                                                               
animals in the area that are attracted to traps and get caught.                                                                 
4:25:26 PM                                                                                                                    
RANDALL  L.  ZARNKE,   President,  Alaska  Trappers  Association,                                                               
Fairbanks,  Alaska,  testified  in  opposition  to  HB  105.  The                                                               
association  believes this  measure is  unnecessary, because  the                                                               
wolf  population in  the  Denali area  is  abundant and  wildlife                                                               
management is  really based on  population not on  the individual                                                               
animals,  as  discussed  earlier.  As  all  know,  management  of                                                               
wildlife in  Alaska is  the responsibility of  the Board  of Game                                                               
and it should be left to them.                                                                                                  
In  the association's  opinion, this  bill is  being promoted  by                                                               
people who  are opposed to  consumptive use who should  work with                                                               
their  allies  at  the  Park Service  to  offer  state  residents                                                               
something  in return.  They would  consider  supporting a  buffer                                                               
zone if state  residents were allowed to hunt sheep  in the Gates                                                               
of the Arctic area and the Wrangell Mountains.                                                                                  
4:27:06 PM                                                                                                                    
AL BARRETTE,  representing himself, Fairbanks,  Alaska, testified                                                               
in opposition of HB 105. His  concern is based on language saying                                                               
that  a leghold  trap with  a  jaw-spread greater  than 5  inches                                                               
would not be  allowed in the designated area,  and that basically                                                               
eliminates  what  trappers  call  the number-4  size  trap.  It's                                                               
probably the second  most popular trap in Alaska that  is used on                                                               
the ground. So, it potentially  would make any of the subsistence                                                               
trappers  in  the area  re-supply  with  less effective,  smaller                                                               
traps targeting other species like coyote, lynx, and wolverine.                                                                 
His  second  concern was  language  on  line 18  authorizing  the                                                               
department  to  take wolves  that  are  presenting a  danger  for                                                               
health  and safety  to  local  residents, and  that  is the  only                                                               
option. Currently, the Minto Flats  area has a lice outbreak, and                                                               
the department is considering its options  on how to take care of                                                               
the pelt damage  that affects animals' ability to  have long hair                                                               
and survive  through the cold  winters. This provision in  HB 105                                                               
wouldn't allow the department to take wolves in that area.                                                                      
MR. BARRETTE  said the definition of  "taking" includes capturing                                                               
or pursuing,  and it allows  the department to eliminate  some of                                                               
the   infected  wolves,   so  the   infestation  doesn't   spread                                                               
throughout  the  state, but  wouldn't  allow  them to  treat  the                                                               
wolves by pursuing them.                                                                                                        
MR. BARRETTE added  that one of the four or  five collared wolves                                                               
that were retrieved this year was  killed by another pack, and no                                                               
one   ever   mentions   the  high   mortality   of   wolf-on-wolf                                                               
Subsistence users would be impacted  in the area. Moving from one                                                               
area  to somebody  else's  area  creates a  lot  of conflict  and                                                               
confusion with other trappers, he said.                                                                                         
4:30:42 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL noted department representatives  on line and asked                                                               
if the committee had questions.                                                                                                 
SENATOR COGHILL asked for someone  to comment on whether the pack                                                               
size fluctuates with the food supply.                                                                                           
4:32:02 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE DALE,  Director, Division of Wildlife  Conservation, Alaska                                                               
Department  of Fish  and Game,  Anchorage, Alaska,  answered that                                                               
wolf density,  or population size,  is largely a function  of the                                                               
availability  of   ungulate  prey,  and  when   wolf  populations                                                               
decline,  its  either  because  prey numbers  change  or  if  the                                                               
vulnerability  of the  prey changes.  Vulnerability to  predation                                                               
could  be affected  by snow  conditions, nutritional  status, and                                                               
that sort of  thing. It's a good predictor of  wolf density. In a                                                               
few  areas harvest  can have  an  effect, but  in Alaska  through                                                               
regular hunting  and trapping, harvest typically  does not affect                                                               
wolf  numbers. Wolves  are  capable  of providing  for  a lot  of                                                               
harvest,  because  dispersal is  a  real  important life  history                                                               
trait.  Up to  20  percent of  a pack  can  disperse every  year.                                                               
Wolves have  a lot  of pups  and when  they get  to be  about two                                                               
years old at about this time  of year, from February through June                                                               
and July,  a lot  of them  seek their  own territories.  They are                                                               
looking  for places  to live  and there  aren't always  places to                                                               
live  and they  become  vulnerable  to other  wolves  and to  the                                                               
trappers and hunters.                                                                                                           
4:34:07 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL said  the other part to that question  is in this                                                               
particular zone the wolves are managed  by the park and the state                                                               
manages for  wolves within the  state and  asked if there  is any                                                               
overlap in management. Is there an ability to count accurately?                                                                 
MR. DALE answered  that there is some overlap.  The park actually                                                               
studies  the  wolves and  monitors  their  population. The  state                                                               
doesn't  do surveys  inside  Denali National  Park.  He said  the                                                               
primary cause  of death  in wolves in  Denali National  Park from                                                               
1987 through the late 90s was being killed by other wolves.                                                                     
4:35:28 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked Mr. Dale  to help him  understand the                                                               
interplay of  the Constitution; the general  authority section in                                                               
Article 8, says  natural resources belonging to the  state are to                                                               
be used for  the maximum benefit of the people.  Then there's the                                                               
common use  section, which  says fish,  wildlife, and  waters are                                                               
reserved for the people for common  use. He asked how he accounts                                                               
for  the  money the  wolf  viewing  brings  in versus  the  other                                                               
competing  uses and  what he  thinks is  the maximum  benefit for                                                               
this wildlife.                                                                                                                  
MR. DALE  replied that is a  policy call for the  trustees of the                                                               
resource,  which   is  the   legislature,  that   delegated  that                                                               
authority  to  the Board  of  Game.  As  the trust  manager,  the                                                               
department provides the information  needed to make the decision,                                                               
and wolf viewing is a high use.                                                                                                 
4:37:00 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  concurred with  him but  asked if  he could                                                               
reconcile all the interests.                                                                                                    
MR. DALE  answered no; his expertise  is in biology, and  that is                                                               
really a "values call."                                                                                                         
4:38:22 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL closed public testimony on HB 105.                                                                                
4:39:00 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ANDY JOSEPHSON,  Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, sponsor of  HB 105, commented that much of  what he would                                                               
say has  been said already.  The fundamental things he  wants the                                                               
committee to  know are that  research on  the question of  who is                                                               
taking wolves that leave the  National Park suggest that it's two                                                               
or  three  individuals. An  article  in  the National  Geographic                                                               
Magazine, February  2016, featured a gentleman  named Mr. Wallace                                                               
saying he  had ruined the  opportunity for millions of  people to                                                               
see  wolves. He  is  right, because  taking significant  breeding                                                               
females contributes  to the demise of  a pack. When a  buffer was                                                               
put  in  place by  the  Board  of  Game,  the numbers  seemed  to                                                               
correlate with viewability which was  down to 6 percent last year                                                               
from 45 percent - and there was no evidence to the contrary.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON said  Mr.  Wallace may  be right  also,                                                               
because  Denali gets  about 650,000  visitors per  year and  that                                                               
adds up  to a couple million  people over a number  of years. The                                                               
issue here  is economic. It's true  that the park entry  is doing                                                               
well, but the question is:  could it do better. Fundamentally, it                                                               
is known  that these wolves  leave to the  north and to  the east                                                               
and  evidence  indicates that  only  a  handful of  trappers  are                                                               
getting any  benefit in this area,  but that is enough  to really                                                               
do some damage.                                                                                                                 
Relative  to  the  traps  that  would  be  prohibited  under  the                                                               
legislation,  he carefully  crafted  that  language with  Bernard                                                               
Chastain, the  leading Department of Public  Safety (DPS) officer                                                               
in  the  state on  wildlife  enforcement  policy; Mr.  Dale,  and                                                               
former  Board  of  Game  member, Vic  Van  Ballenberg  and  their                                                               
general  consensus was  that those  two types  of traps  were the                                                               
kinds that a wolf  would come upon and end its  life over and not                                                               
necessarily other  traps. All other trapping  would continue. Mr.                                                               
Chastain said  in correspondence  if someone caught  a wolf  in a                                                               
trap,  because the  bill  precludes the  taking  of wolves,  that                                                               
almost surely  would not  result in  his prosecution,  because an                                                               
affirmative  defense could  be  used  to say  it  was some  other                                                               
He also  noted that  people say  this is state  land and  this is                                                               
basically  a conservation  easement of  sorts in  a discrete  and                                                               
narrow way relative to this wolf population.                                                                                    
4:44:36 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR COGHILL observed  that most of the wolf  viewing is along                                                               
the road  system and that  viewing opportunities within  the park                                                               
are very limited,  because it has only one major  road and just a                                                               
few pack areas. It looks like  this corridor is really giving the                                                               
population  area that  is covered  by roads  that limitation.  Is                                                               
that observation accurate?                                                                                                      
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON  replied  clearly, the  wolf  observing                                                               
happens  on  the park  road  and  without  a doubt  the  economic                                                               
benefit of  seeing more  wolves would be  enjoyed by  Denali Park                                                               
hoteliers and  restaurants. Some  people get  permits to  go into                                                               
the units where they have better chances of seeing wolves.                                                                      
SENATOR COGHILL remarked  that he would probably ask  the park to                                                               
put in more  access before he would be willing  to surrender some                                                               
of this ground.                                                                                                                 
4:46:18 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI  asked his  thoughts on weighing  the Alaska                                                               
Constitutional issues  of common  use versus the  maximum benefit                                                               
for Alaskans.                                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  answered that there is  a discussion on                                                               
whether predator  control polices allow the  constitutional goals                                                               
to  be met.  But this  isn't about  that issue.  It is,  however,                                                               
about concerns  over the rights of  folks to see wildlife.  It is                                                               
imperative to do  better in terms of the economic  value, and the                                                               
common use  principle is seriously  undermined when two  or three                                                               
individuals can  capture wolves who  leave in a seasonal  way and                                                               
undermine the  health of the  packs, which rely on  the knowledge                                                               
and  intelligence of  their senior  members for  their prosperity                                                               
and health.                                                                                                                     
4:48:04 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  BISHOP asked  how long  the three  people he  is talking                                                               
about have been harvesting wolves in this area.                                                                                 
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON replied they  were prohibited for a time                                                               
in  2000 to  2010.  He didn't  know if  that  was dispositive  of                                                               
SENATOR BISHOP said he looked  at the population estimates inside                                                               
the park  in the last  26 years and  saw some good  wolf numbers,                                                               
and he was trying to draw a correlation.                                                                                        
4:49:27 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  JOSEPHSON noted  anecdotal  information from  Mr.                                                               
Shawn McGuire  (in the other  body) that has not  been challenged                                                               
that animals  have been killed  to draw  the wolves out.  He knew                                                               
that  a horse  had been  killed for  that purpose.  That concerns                                                               
him. Folks  who come  on a  two-week trip to  Alaska want  to see                                                               
wolves and we should help them see them.                                                                                        
CHAIR GIESSEL thanked the sponsor and held HB 105 in committee.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Senate Resources - Updated Agenda - 3 - 23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB105 ver R.PDF SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Summary of Changes.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Fiscal Note - ADFG - 3 - 19 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Fiscal Note - DPS - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 SRES Testimony R. Steiner 3-23-18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Denali Wolf Population Update 3-15-2015.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Econ Importance AK Wildlife 3-01-2014.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-FNSB Resolution 8-25-2016.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Loomis Economic Values of Wolves in Denali 3-30-2016.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-National Geographic Article 2-01-2016.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Photo-Wolves on Park Rd 2-14-2018.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Plos Research Report 4-28-2016.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Proposed Buffer Map 10-02-2017.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Various Letters of Support 2-14-2018.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Various News Articles 2-14-2018.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-Wolf Survey Data and Sighting Index 2-14-2018.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 Supporting Documents-DENA Fact Sheet 6-01-2017.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Support - Patricia OBrien - 3 - 23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB 105 - Various Support to Senate Resources - 3 - 23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105- Support - Barbara Brease - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Support - Alaska Wildlife Alliance - 3 - 23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Support - Frank Maxwell - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Testimony - Vic Van Ballenberghe - 3 - 23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB 105 Opposition - Denali AC - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105- Opposition - Al Barette - 3 -23 - 18 .pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Support - Becky Hassebroek - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Updated Presentation to Senate Resources - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
SB176 - Testimony - Ryan McGovern - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 176
SB176 - Testimony - AOGA - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
SB 176
HB105 - Support - Cole Family - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Opposition - Fairbanks AC - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105
HB105 - Opposition - Karen Gordon - 3 - 23 - 18.pdf SRES 3/23/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 105