SB 318, SB 329 and SB 297


Alaska / Senator Con Bunde / May 1, 2004


Dear Senator:

Although I am not currently living in Alaska, I am aware of the "consumptive use" phase in the Alaska Constitution.  I also am familiar with people living "in the bush," many of whom are my friends and are consumptive users of game.  The moose, sheep and caribou that has been shared with me while visiting there has tasted wonderful. However, I am concerned that this phrase is being used to manipulate the balance of nature to the point that Alaska will be no better off than in the Lower 48, where we have already screwed things up royally. I am also aware that accountants and lawyers in Anchorage, Fairbanks, and Juneau have just as much right to consider themselves "sustenance" users as are the people who actually live in the remote parts of Alaska.  Is this the reason why there isn't sufficient moose for human consumption... because someone who lives next door to Carr's wants moose instead of beef? I realize that many Alaskans think those of us who live Outside don't have a clue, and that we shouldn't care what happens in Alaska.  But after six trips to AK, I care... I care a lot, because I appreciate what I see and experience when I am there, and do not wish to have it become anything less than what it is (yes, I've been there in winter) ... God's Country!

Sincerely,

Peggy A. Meisch North Branch, MN


Dear Ms. Meisch,

Thank you for contacting me about SB 318, SB 329 and SB 297.  I appreciate your interest in game management in Alaska.  Unfortunately, whatever group informed you of the effects of these bills was incorrect.

As you are not from Alaska, you are likely unfamiliar with the Alaska Constitution's requirements for the management of game for maximum sustained yield.  You are also likely unfamiliar with Alaska Natives' reliance on game as a food source for their subsistence lifestyle.  Alaska is much different from your state.  However, we in the Legislature are not a bunch of cave-dwelling Neanderthals who only want to hunt animals to extinction as some groups might suggest.

SB 318, "Consumptive Use of Fish & Game" is one paragraph long.  It states, "It is the policy of the state that the consumptive uses of wild fish and game resources by Alaska residents for their sustenance is a very high preference when considering the management and allocation of those resources.  Nothing in this policy exempts a person from compliance with state law.  In this section, "sustenance" means that which is used for personal and family consumption as food or nourishment, or to sustain life."  This policy is fully in line with Article VIII, Section 4 of the Alaska Constitution that provides, "Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all other replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized, developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to preferences among beneficial uses."  SB 318 simply states that the Board of Game should, when making decisions regarding the management and/or allocation of these commonly owned assets, recognize that the consumptive use of wild fish and game resources by Alaskans to feed themselves and their families represents a high preference among competing uses, not "the utmost priority."

You have also been misinformed about SB 329, "Control of Nuisance Moose."  SB 329 will not allow "citizens and residents to personally relocate moose in urban areas."  SB 329 says the Department of Fish & Game may authorize a private group to relocate nuisance moose if the group is qualified and their plan is approved and can be accomplished without undue danger to the public, themselves, or the moose.  Only moose posing a significant risk to the health, safety, or economic well being of people would be relocated.  Only trained and certified people will be allowed to dart moose.  This bill is trying to save the more than 700 moose per year that die in moose/vehicle collisions, the 2-3 people who die in those collisions, and the hundreds of people who are injured each year.  It will also help avoid having urban moose starve to death for want of food.

SB 297, "Taking Black, Brown and Grizzly Bear/Guides" passed the Senate yesterday by a vote of 13-6 with my support.  It is important to understand that the provisions in SB 297 only come into play if the Board of Game, advised by Department of Fish and Game biologists, finds that bears are a cause of the depletion or reduction of big game in a specific game management unit for a specific period of time.  In addition, the issue of auctions is just one small part of the bill.  You can read SB 297 at:
http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/23/Bills/SB0297B.PDF


If you would truly like to learn more about these or any other bills before the Alaska State Legislature, please do contact me.  I'll be happy to assist you.

Sincerely, Senator Con Bunde




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