OK, I’ve had a lot of calls, emails, and questions, that I’d like to answer for everyone:
The ADFG and Ahtna Native closed-door meeting prior to the BOG meeting in Anchorage, denied all others notice and opportunity to attend. A violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, Open Public Meetings policy. You can not make regulations behind closed doors! And who would of thought a closed door meeting with ADFG and Ahtna Natives would result in proposed regulations that gave 300+ permits right of the top to 8 Ahtna Native villages – no questions asked (i.e., NO qualifying subsistence questions contrary to the enabling statute AS 16.04.258), and everyone else gets put into the once every four years lottery!
First, the new proposed Unit 13 Tier II regs do away with Tier II longtime customary and traditional hunting rights (5 AAC 92.070). Instead they impose an automatic granting of 300+ permits for the 8 Ahtna native villages under Community Harvest Subsistence Permits. (5 AAC 92.072 et seq.) All other former Tier II hunters rights are GONE, are denied annual subsistence hunting and are put into a once every 4 year lottery. That means you may never get to hunt Unit 13 caribou again for the rest of your life. The regs were changed too close to the hunting season to allow for anyone else to apply for a community harvest hunt, because the next Board of Game meeting is Nov. 2009, AFTER the fall hunts are over!
However, next year, if you apply for and opt-in to the Community Harvest (“slaughter”) Permits, you MAY be eligible every year you apply. The Community “slaughter” permits don’t necessarily allow YOU to hunt; the community hunt administrator determines who can hunt for the community – one “hired hunter” (who is reimbursed for all costs of hunting) can kill the entire community quota of caribou and moose! AND they determine for you how much meat goes to sharing and to whom, NOT by you and your family. Do we really need regulations (5 AAC 92.072 (c)(1)(F)) to tell us how much and who to share our subsistence hunting gains with? That is destroying longtime customary and traditional family subsistence hunting, to say nothing of blatant denial of equal protections.
The new regulations force everyone who needs or wants to hunt annually, to apply for the Community “slaughter” permits, otherwise you get the 4-year lottery which is NOT subsistence use, and you most likely will never receive a permit again by lottery! Is this how we want to treat our longtime Alaskans? What is next, Native/rural preference for the pfd dollars? Unemployment dollars? State retirement fund?
The law requires that when the game resource is too low for all subsistence users to get a permit, then the longtime customs, traditions, socio-economic factors (AS 16.05.258(b)(3) [ie, Tier I] and (4)[ie, Tier II), “shall” be considered. The new regs do not consider any longtime customary or traditional uses where the first 300+ permits are given off the top no questions asked to the 8 Ahtna Native villages (i.e, not eligible for subsistence use under the enabling law above), and the 4-year lottery does not use the individual user’s longtime customary and traditional family use and dependency. Thus NEITHER category complies with the subsistence statute, whether it is at the Tier I or Tier II level.
Some how, after 20+ years as a Tier II hunt, and when the Nelchina caribou herd is down to 30,000 animals (thus allowing only a 1,000 harvestable quota for 2009-2010), the BOG nonetheless turns it into a Tier I hunt, without realizing that NEITHER category of granting 300+ permits or the once every 4-year lottery, do NOT comply with the statutory requirement for subsistence hunting eligibility! (AS 16.05.258(b)(3) or (4)). At Tier I it is still a subsistence hunt and “no other consumptive uses are allowed.” Thus an automatic “grant” (with no qualifying conditions whatsoever) of 300+ permits, and a 4-year lottery, are other consumptive uses not allowed by statute. The BOG action is clearly arbitrary and capricious, without justification, and must be struck down by the courts.
This issue of granting special hunting privilages goes way back to our Constitutional Convention, when they wrote Article VIII Section 3 (common use clause), and 15, 17, and clearly stated there will be no granting of special privileges for hunting or fishing. Upheld in McDowell v. State, 785 P.2d 1 (Alaska 1989), reaffirmed in Rosier v. Kenaitze Indian Tribe, 894 P.2d 632 (Alaska 1995), and several more cases thereafter. And what did they do again – granting 300+ permits right off the top without any subsistence qualifications whatsoever. When is the ADFG BOG and the State AG Saxby going to listen to the courts and comply with the laws and constitutions??
These Community Harvest Subsistence (“slaughter”) Permits are the most despicable, disgraceful, degrading hunting regulations I have ever seen! They destroy longtime customary and traditional family subsistence hunting, and allow regulations to tell us who to share with and how much, under penalty of law!
There is still time to help fight these disgraceful regulations – go to Manning v. ADFG and see what you can do! Call the Lt. Gov Sean Parnel, and the Gov Palin. Phone numbers and addresses on the following web site:
http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/Alaskasourdough/ADFGlawsuit.html. Take action to help protect your hunting rights! God help us all!