Legislature(2017 - 2018)BUTROVICH 205

04/16/2018 03:30 PM Senate RESOURCES

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* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
Moved CSHCR 23(RES) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHJR 29(FIN) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved CSHB 197(FIN) Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
Moved HB 354 Out of Committee
-- Public Testimony --
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
     CSHCR 23(RES)-PROTECT WILDLIFE FROM FOREIGN PATHOGENS                                                                  
4:34:18 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  announced consideration of HCR  23. [CSHCR 23(RES)                                                               
was before the committee.]                                                                                                      
4:34:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE ANDY JOSEPHSON,  Alaska State Legislature, Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, sponsor  of HCR 23,  explained that the impetus  for this                                                               
resolution came  from concerns with the  Micoplasma Ovipneumoniae                                                               
(M.Ovi) bacteria,  which has  been identified  in the  last 30-40                                                               
days, principally in  Unit 15 on the Kenai Peninsula  and Unit 13                                                               
in the  MatSu area, as  having infected  goats and sheep.  It has                                                               
also been identified  elsewhere. There are many  strains of M.OVI                                                               
and the department is doing  the technical and laboratory work to                                                               
find out which strain this is.                                                                                                  
He  explained that  the  response  to the  M.Ovi  issue has  been                                                               
"pretty   dramatic."  This   resolution  has   received  in   the                                                               
neighborhood  of 100-plus  letters of  support and  a handful  in                                                               
opposition. The concern stems from  a catastrophic die-off of big                                                               
game  sheep  in the  Rocky  Mountains,  and naturally,  big  game                                                               
guides  and hunters  and others  don't  want to  see that  happen                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON said this  resolution was caught up with                                                               
issues about  domestic husbandry and domestic  animals. The Board                                                               
of Game heard a couple of  proposals and concluded it didn't have                                                               
jurisdiction  over the  matter.  The State  Veterinarian is  very                                                               
involved and does not oppose the  resolution as it is written and                                                               
wants  the state  to  be vigilant  and to  keep  working on  this                                                               
issue. Some may believe that this  has to be an either-or kind of                                                               
thing, because  of alarm over  a possible effort to  intervene in                                                               
the putative  source of the M.Ovi  virus. We don't want  to see a                                                               
die-off of wild game.                                                                                                           
REPRESENTATIVE JOSEPHSON  said language  in the second  and fifth                                                               
whereas  clauses of  the  resolution were  changed  in the  House                                                               
Resources Committee and  uses the term "livestock" in  a way that                                                               
he didn't agree  with. But when it was argued  on the House Floor                                                               
it was  viewed as  balanced. Some of  the words,  particularly on                                                               
lines 6  and 13 talking about  science-based livestock management                                                               
attributing billions  of dollars of economic  value to livestock,                                                               
are not quite accurate.                                                                                                         
CHAIR GIESSEL thanked him for taking  on this issue. She said the                                                               
State   Veterinarian  with   the   Department  of   Environmental                                                               
Conservation (DEC) was  on-line and clarified that  the state has                                                               
lots  of state  veterinarians.  ADF&G has  one  and the  upcoming                                                               
fiscal year  budget contains funding  for the incorporation  of a                                                               
new   position  of   veterinarian  in   the  DNR's   Division  of                                                               
4:39:49 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL asked for state veterinarian questions.                                                                           
SENATOR STEDMAN asked  his opinion of the new finding  of some of                                                               
these diseased animals.                                                                                                         
4:40:21 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  GERLACH,   State  Veterinarian,   Office  of   the  State                                                               
Veterinarian,  Department  of Environmental  Conservation  (DEC),                                                               
Anchorage, Alaska,  answered that he  began a study one  year ago                                                               
when the  question of mycoplasma  pneumonia was brought  up. They                                                               
started  testing  livestock, both  sheep  and  goats, across  the                                                               
state to  determine the prevalence  of this pathogen  in domestic                                                               
livestock. Right  now, there  is a prevalence  rate of  about 4-5                                                               
percent in  domestic livestock. In  that same time  period, ADF&G                                                               
also  began  testing  samples  for  mycoplasma  ovipneumoniae  in                                                               
different wildlife  species and populations across  the state and                                                               
have been doing surveillance for  mycoplasma bacteria in wildlife                                                               
for a  number of years  and just  now instituted a  stronger push                                                               
toward a different testing method  for it. Several press releases                                                               
on the  findings on  the wild  sheep and  goats across  the state                                                               
have been  put out.  It has  been found  wild populations  in the                                                               
Kenai Peninsula and up northeast of the Brooks Range.                                                                           
SENATOR COGHILL  thanked him for  his answers. He asked  what new                                                               
things would happen if this resolution passes.                                                                                  
MR. GERLACH  answered the surveillance  and understanding  of the                                                               
presence  of this  pathogen  in both  domestic  and wild  species                                                               
across the  state would continue.  But what they don't  know, and                                                               
ADF&G is  taking a big  step in doing,  is not just  testing wild                                                               
sheep  or goats  but testing  other species  to see  if they  are                                                               
affected by it or if they could be carriers and transmitters.                                                                   
SENATOR  COGHILL  said  he  appreciates that  and  asked  if  the                                                               
resolution speeds them along in the right direction.                                                                            
MR. GERLACH  answered what DEC  and ADF&G have  been coordinating                                                               
work on  it and on a  number of different diseases,  as well like                                                               
chronic  wasting  disease  surveillance, influenza,  rabies,  and                                                               
others, in the same manner.                                                                                                     
4:45:03 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR GIESSEL  noted that  language on page  2, lines  1-2, says,                                                               
"Whereas  wildlife   of  the  state   is  under   continuous  and                                                               
increasing  threat from  foreign pathogens,  infectious diseases,                                                               
and non-endemic  parasites..." and asked  if he as the  DEC State                                                               
Veterinarian considered M.Ovi pathogen a threat.                                                                                
MR. GERLACH  replied from what they  know at this time,  they see                                                               
no  negative   impact  of  mycoplasma  ovipneumoniae   in  either                                                               
domestic  or wildlife  species.  So, the  identification of  this                                                               
pathogen needs to  be further evaluated. The Lower  48 states and                                                               
Southern British Columbia have  totally different situations with                                                               
respect  to the  habitat  they  have for  their  wild sheep,  the                                                               
amounts  of  interaction  they   have,  the  stressors  on  those                                                               
populations, and  the overall density  of our  domestic livestock                                                               
in comparison to what these  other areas have. The two situations                                                               
are totally different and just because  we have the presence of a                                                               
pathogen  doesn't  necessarily  mean   we  have  the  disease  or                                                               
pathology that  results from  it. He explained  that if  you went                                                               
out  and  picked up  some  dirt  from  the  ground, a  number  of                                                               
different pathogens  could get  on your  hands, but  just because                                                               
they are there doesn't mean you  are going to be sick, especially                                                               
if you  take certain precautions  and management  procedures such                                                               
as washing hands and other things to prevent it.                                                                                
In this  case they have been  provided a time period  to go ahead                                                               
and  look at  the situation,  work to  understand what  the risks                                                               
are, and  then help to  institute management changes if  they are                                                               
needed   to  prevent   risk  to   either  domestic   or  wildlife                                                               
populations  in  Alaska. This  is  a  concern for  many  emerging                                                               
diseases in the state, not just mycoplasma ovipneumoniae.                                                                       
CHAIR  GIESSEL said  she appreciated  his balanced  response. She                                                               
said Alaska  has 25 percent  of the  wild sheep in  North America                                                               
and it could have a substantial  impact on Alaska if the pathogen                                                               
proves to be deadly.  She appreciated the ongoing investigation.                                                                
4:48:13 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  GIESSEL,  finding  no  further  questions,  opened  public                                                               
testimony on HCR 23.                                                                                                            
AMY  SEITZ, Executive  Director,  Alaska  Farm Bureau,  Soldotna,                                                               
Alaska, supported HCR 23. She  said the Alaska Farm Bureau agrees                                                               
with  the  idea  of  encouraging  Alaska's  agencies  to  protect                                                               
wildlife  and domestic  animals  and  appreciates the  amendments                                                               
added  in   the  House  Resources  Committee   stating  that  the                                                               
information  needs to  be gathered  in order  to make  a science-                                                               
based  decision and  adding references  to  domestic animals  and                                                               
livestock to correlate with the title that references both.                                                                     
If this  resolution passes, she said  it is important to  know if                                                               
the   support  is   for  encouraging   agencies  to   gather  the                                                               
information  and  make  science-based management  decisions  with                                                               
necessary  and  prudent  measures  or if  this  is  a  revolution                                                               
pushing for action. There can  be significant differences between                                                               
these two  possible ways of  looking at it. Especially  since the                                                               
current  M.Ovi issue  spurred this  resolution  on, they  believe                                                               
agencies  are  taking  necessary  and  prudent  steps  to  gather                                                               
Alaska-specific information in order  to make appropriate actions                                                               
to minimize the risk of a disease outbreak.                                                                                     
MS. SEITZ said  that enhancing efforts and  taking actions before                                                               
getting the information  to prevent this spread  of pathogens can                                                               
be extreme  and not necessarily  the right approach.  Had actions                                                               
been taken when  this issue first came to Alaska  before they had                                                               
any  information, they  probably  wouldn't  have discovered  that                                                               
M.Ovi was already  in our wildlife or that it's  up in the Brooks                                                               
Range  where it  most likely  didn't come  from a  direct contact                                                               
with  domestic  animal. So,  it's  really  important to  get  the                                                               
information before taking action.                                                                                               
She said one of  the points that has been brought  up is that the                                                               
requestors want to go M.Ovi-free in  the state, and at this point                                                               
they don't  know enough  about this  pathogen to  know how  to go                                                               
M.Ovi-free  or if  it is  even  possible. Trying  to eradicate  a                                                               
pathogen  would be  extremely costly  to the  state and  domestic                                                               
owners.  We  don't   know  if  M.Ovi  is  endemic   in  our  wild                                                               
populations,  and   there  have   been  indications   that  other                                                               
ungulates can  be carriers  of M.Ovi,  so it  would be  unwise to                                                               
encourage  agencies to  take  actions  before understanding  what                                                               
appropriate action would  be. If the sole focus  is on regulating                                                               
domestic sheep and goats, we  may end up missing something really                                                               
important when trying to solve this problem.                                                                                    
MS.  SEITZ  said  several  other countries  that  have  wild  and                                                               
domestic animals  don't seem to  be having the same  problem that                                                               
Big Horn  Sheep have had. It  would be important to  find out why                                                               
and  why Alaska  has  M.OVI in  its wild  herds,  but they  still                                                               
appear  to be  healthy, and  how  long it  has been  in our  wild                                                               
She  said  the agencies  mentioned  in  this resolution  do  take                                                               
necessary and  prudent steps  to gather  information in  order to                                                               
make a  science-based decision whether  it's M.Ovi,  winter tics,                                                               
or  numerous  other diseases  they  monitor.  If this  resolution                                                               
passes, they hope  it's with the intent to  encourage and support                                                               
the agencies  in gathering the  facts and science to  justify any                                                               
actions and  not as  a way  of pushing  them into  action without                                                               
4:53:09 PM                                                                                                                    
TIANA  THOMAS, Mutual  Aide Network  of  Livestock Producers  and                                                               
Consumers,  Wasilla, Alaska,  said  their  network receives  feed                                                               
from Delta, sells meats through  the Farmers Market, and eggs and                                                               
milk  through Shares.  She advised  them  to be  cautious of  two                                                               
words in the resolution: "enhanced"  and "catastrophic." In other                                                               
states,  "enhanced" measures  include extirpation  of any  flocks                                                               
that has a single positive member.  In the 2017 Fall issue of the                                                               
Wild Sheep Foundation Magazine she  read an article by Dr. Besser                                                               
D.V.M.  that  he is  no  longer  recommending extirpating  entire                                                               
herds. Rather  they look  to see which  animals cannot  clear the                                                               
mycoplasma and  it seems that  only 10  percent of the  Big Horns                                                               
cannot do  that; the rest of  them are developing the  ability to                                                               
clear the mycoplasma and becoming disease resistant.                                                                            
She said that  domestic animals have had a  longer encounter with                                                               
M.OVI and have  much better clearance rates. In fact,  out of all                                                               
the testing  that was  voluntary on domestics  in the  state only                                                               
one  animal tested  positive on  all  three nasal  swabs and  the                                                               
antibody serum  detection. The  rest of  them had  detections but                                                               
did  not have  the infection,  and they  definitely did  not have                                                               
concurrent  positive swabs.  They are  looking at  having greater                                                               
cooperation  with the  State Veterinarian  to develop  M.OVI-free                                                               
source  herds  for pack  goats  that  would  go into  Dall  Sheep                                                               
4:55:44 PM                                                                                                                    
However, she  encouraged members to  respect the Alaska  and U.S.                                                               
Constitution  and not  ask private  property  citizens what  they                                                               
would  never ask  of  a  gun owner,  because  those the  enhanced                                                               
measures   are    universal   registration,    mandatory   tests,                                                               
confiscation  and  destruction  of  those  that  fail  the  test.                                                               
Hunters would never  be asked that. These  are strong-arm tactics                                                               
that would  obstruct and discourage  open cooperation  going into                                                               
the future with the State Veterinarian.                                                                                         
Further, Ms.  Thomas said  it would be  financially hard  for the                                                               
state to  administer and  definitely be  a hardship  for farmers.                                                               
Mandatory  testing on  all private  properties  would double  the                                                               
cost  of  animals.  She  supports  M.OVI-free  source  herds  for                                                               
animals that will go out into public lands.                                                                                     
4:57:36 PM                                                                                                                    
MS.  THOMAS said  the state's  food security  and access  is very                                                               
important and  people currently  outnumber caribou.  While trophy                                                               
hunting is a big part of  conservation, it takes the pressure off                                                               
of  the  young  tender  tasty breeding  age  animals.  Without  a                                                               
substitution  from the  domestic sector  for those  animals as  a                                                               
poaching source,  subsistence users  could quite easily  lose all                                                               
of their native animals and subsistence sources.                                                                                
She understands  that it's hard  on guides to follow  the natural                                                               
fluctuating cycles of the Big Horns  in the state, but it is also                                                               
hard on the animals to  artificially sustain an elevated density.                                                               
Drastic crashes and drastic peaks can  be smoothed out, but it is                                                               
not  wise to  follow enhanced  measures to  keep an  artificially                                                               
elevated population  - although  the Big  Horn numbers  have been                                                               
increasing wonderfully of the past couple of decades.                                                                           
MS. THOMAS pointed  out that pack horses have  been exempted from                                                               
any  scrutiny  for  disease   transfer  even  though  confinement                                                               
studies found  that horses  and goats have  very nearly  the same                                                               
rates  of  disease  transfer.  She  asked  that  all  animals  be                                                               
included in  the resolution, because  domestics and  wildlife are                                                               
equally valuable  to the  residents of the  State of  Alaska, but                                                               
those  are  being managed  for  the  residents  and not  for  the                                                               
resource itself.                                                                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL thanked  Ms. Thomas for her testimony  and said she                                                               
appreciated her  passion on  this subject.  She pointed  out that                                                               
the  words "domestic  animals and  wildlife"  appear balanced  in                                                               
this resolution and appear with equal frequency.                                                                                
4:59:47 PM                                                                                                                    
THOR  STACEY, lobbyist,  Alaska  Wild  Sheep Foundation,  Juneau,                                                               
Alaska, supported  HCR 23. This  is a matter of  conservation. It                                                               
has to do with constitutional  mandates for sustained yield. Dall                                                               
sheep,  mountain  goats,  and  musk ox  are  clearly  covered  in                                                               
section 8 of the Constitution.                                                                                                  
He said the Wild Sheep  Foundation is mostly composed of hunters,                                                               
although as with other types  of conservation organizations it is                                                               
aligned in  its mission to preserve  wildlife for non-consumptive                                                               
users.  However,  from  a hunter's  perspective,  this  makes  an                                                               
important statement of policy: if  there is a disease outbreak in                                                               
the  state, the  full  cost of  that measure  would  be borne  by                                                               
hunters. Wildlife  is clearly supported  by hunting  licenses and                                                               
the fees  that go to  the Division  of Wildlife. No  general fund                                                               
monies  are  used. There  is  no  responsibility  at all  on  the                                                               
domestic  side if  an outbreak  occurs. This  is unlike  a forest                                                               
fire: once  the originating party  in a fire is  identified, that                                                               
party  has the  responsibility to  indemnify the  public for  the                                                               
loss of the forest and to  indemnify owners of cabins or property                                                               
that gets destroyed by this event.                                                                                              
In the  case of a disease  outbreak, Mr. Stacey said  there is no                                                               
responsibility  on the  person from  which  the disease  outbreak                                                               
originates. So, they  appreciate the effort they put  into a pro-                                                               
active policy that  hopefully works to minimize  the burden: loss                                                               
of  the resource  and the  costs ultimately  that go  to the  end                                                               
5:02:24 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STACEY said  secondly, this resolution brings  policy in line                                                               
with the  policies the legislature  has put forward  on fisheries                                                               
management  to  prevent  disease transmission  from  aquaculture,                                                               
fish  farming, ranches,  and all  series of  projects to  enhance                                                               
fisheries. The wild fish are obviously a priority in the state.                                                                 
He said hopefully  those changes - adding "livestock"  on page 1,                                                               
lines 6 and 13, where it's  not very intuitive how livestock fits                                                               
in  -  that are  supported  by  the  Farm  Bureau and  the  House                                                               
represent a  collaborative commitment  for the  agricultural side                                                               
and the wildlife side to work together on what approach to take.                                                                
CHAIR GIESSEL, finding  no questions, thanked Mr.  Stacey for his                                                               
testimony, and  closed public testimony.  She commented  that Mr.                                                               
Stacey used the term "collaborative  commitment" and that is what                                                               
she  is  also hoping  for.  The  discussion has  centered  around                                                               
M.OVI, but  this is  a broad statement  about measures  to detect                                                               
the  presence  of  infectious  diseases  and  foreign  pathogens.                                                               
Canada  has barred  the entry  of  cows into  their country  when                                                               
there was  a mad cow  outbreak and multiple pathogens  exist that                                                               
could affect our wild stocks. She  was pleased that at this point                                                               
the  Division  of Agriculture  will  have  its own  veterinarians                                                               
coming on board.                                                                                                                
5:05:49 PM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  COGHILL  commented  that   he  didn't  expect  that  the                                                               
enhanced efforts  would be as  draconian as portrayed,  but those                                                               
efforts  deal with  both wildlife  and domestic  animals, and  if                                                               
anything,  drastic  was  happening, the  legislature  would  hear                                                               
about it.                                                                                                                       
He  moved  to report  CSHCR  23(RES),  version 30-LS1434\D,  from                                                               
committee  with  individual  recommendations  and  attached  zero                                                               
fiscal note(s). There were no objections and it was so ordered.                                                                 

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
Senate Resources - Hearing Agenda - 4 - 16 - 18.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB197 ver L.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Summary of Changes ver A to ver L.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Sectional Analysis.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Fiscal Note-DNR-PMC-02-16-18.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Supporting Document - Letter 4.2.2018.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Supporting Document – Letter 4.9.2018.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Supporting Document - Letter 4.28.2017.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HB197 Supporting Document - Article Seed Bill 12.16.2014.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 197
HJR 29 CS (FIN).PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Explanation of Changes.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Fiscal Note Leg Affairs.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Support Sitka Schools.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Supporting emails.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HJR 29 Supporting Documents SRS FFY 16 and FFY 17 Grants.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HJR 29
HB 354 ver D.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Sponsor Statement.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Fiscal Note HB354-3-3-18.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Fiscal Note HB354-3-29-18.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Supporting Document - SEAFA Letter.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Supporting Document - SARDFA Letter.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Supporting Document - Carruth Letter.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HB 354 Supporting Document - Leighton Letter.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HB 354
HCR23 - Version D.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23- Fiscal Note.PDF SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HCR 23
HCR23 - Comments - AK Farm Bureau to SRES.pdf SRES 4/16/2018 3:30:00 PM
HCR 23