Kodiak Daily Mirror - Alaska Board of Game debates local discretion in hunt registration
Alaska Board of Game debates local discretion in hunt registration
by Wes Hanna / whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com
Jan 17, 2012 | 118 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
KODIAK — Kodiak’s fish and game advisory committee was so opposed to a proposal to tighten the discretionary authority of local biologists to manage game hunts that members not only voted 10-0 against it, they also submitted a letter stating their numerous objections to the state Board of Game — not once, but twice.

The issue boils down to one of local control, with some hunters questioning whether biologists should be allowed to enforce different registration requirments for different hunts.

The subject came up before the Alaska Board of Game in spring 2010, and that discussion continued during the board’s meeting in Anchorage on Monday. The Kodiak fish and game advisory committee sent letters stating its position on both occasions and finally carried the point.

The aim of the proposal, brought up by members of the Board of Game, focused on the requirement that hunters register at a designated location before a particular hunt.

Board members cited an example in Dillingham, which required hunters to travel to the location, register for the hunt, and then return again weeks later to actually conduct the hunt.

The resulting policy smacked of an unfair preference toward local hunters over people from the rest of the state, board members said.

In Kodiak, the discretionary authority to manage permits is an important part of the Kodiak brown bear hunt.

Hunters have to come to Kodiak to pick up the bear hunt draw permits so Alaska Department of Fish and Game staff can give them an orientation, Kodiak fish and game biologist Larry Van Daele told the local advisory committee.

In some mountain goat hunts, the requirements are far more lax. Hunters can register online, fly into a remote location, and shoot a goat without getting the ADF&G involved.

Kodiak advisory committee member Paul Chervenak said he had problems with the Board of Game circumventing the public process and picking and choosing which discretionary measures would be allowed.

“I’m totally against that,” Chervenak said.

In considering how much discretionary authority local biologists should have, Board of Game member Lynn Keogh said the management practices in Kodiak work “completely perfect” for the bear hunts conducted here.

However, he disagreed with their application elsewhere in the state. While local discretionary authority covers lottery-style drawing permits like the Kodiak bear hunt and simple registration permits, it was in the extra registration requirements that the board saw problems.

“I understand the frustration from folks that don’t want to fly out to Dillingham to get a permit before the season,” said board member Ted Spraker, “but I can almost guarantee you that if we make these permits available across the state that that hunt will either go away or be a permit hunt and those opportunities are going to be lost.”

Spraker said he preferred to have a registration hunt requiring more effort and money than a drawing permit hunt where, with his luck, he would likely be shut out.

“For the board to take on where these permits are issued, and so forth, it’s going to be labor intensive for the board,” he said. “I trust the department has good management directives; that’s what we should concentrate on.”

Debate about the discretionary authority went on among board members for about two hours but proved moot as a vote to require managers to justify discretionary changes before the Board of Game failed in a 4-3 vote.

Other issues important to the Kodiak Fish and Game Advisory Board have yet to reach a vote, including allowing the sale of big game trophies and limiting non-residents to 10 percent of hunting permits.

The Board of Game meeting is scheduled to conclude Wednesday.

Contact Mirror writer Wes Hanna at whanna@kodiakdailymirror.com.
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