JUNEAU – Wednesday, Representative Andy Josephson (D-Anchorage) introduced three bills designed to broaden Alaska’s game management goals and strategies. This legislation acknowledges the value of wildlife to all Alaskans and the wide range of uses of game, as well as the importance of wildlife to the tourism industry.
“As Alaska’s population increases we must hold onto our hunting ethics, including fair-chase principles, and manage our wildlife scientifically, rather than deteriorating into a game farm,” said Rep. Josephson.
House Bill 150 says the knowledge and experience of Board of Game members must reflect all game uses. This includes subsistence and sport hunting, trapping, tourism, wildlife viewing and scientific study. One member of the Board of Game must be predominantly a non-consumptive user of game to reflect those uses of wildlife.
House Bill 151 creates a buffer zone near the border of Denali National Park where wolves may not be hunted. This bill recognizes the economic importance of the tourism industry, especially in Denali National Park, which offers visitors the opportunity to view wildlife including wolves and other predators.
House Bill 152 removes the requirement that wildlife must be managed to produce an unnaturally high yield of moose, caribou and deer to increase hunting success. The Board of Game and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game would continue to have the ability to use predator control when game populations are at risk and to support the constitutional sustained yield principle.
“Over about the last twenty-five years, our wildlife management policies have devolved and become a source of shame, allowing among other things: aerial wolf hunting; gassing of wolf pups; hunting of pregnant wolves; shooting of female bears with cubs; shooting bear cubs; classifying black bears as furbearers and allowing sale of bear parts; same-day airborne hunting of bears; taking bears from dens; using artificial lights to take bears; and snaring bears,” said Rep. Josephson. “These were practices that used to be abhorrent to us. I believe our approximately 2 million annual tourists would be appalled. How we would explain this to our youngest citizens is also a mystery to me.”
All three bills have been referred to the House Resources Committee.