Back in Dec I made this post.
No More Cabin Rentals For Unguided Big Game.
In the week or so I participated it was about the most active topic on the board with over 3000 hits and it produced some very thoughtful and encouraging comments. I have been diligently pursuing answers to my dilemma and now know these things.
My situation is rather unique in that most people who are renting cabins to hunters are either guides or transporters or they are doing it from the closet without any licensing or awareness of applicable big game laws. I made the proper discloser inquiries, got the licenses, bought the insurance, paid the taxes and thought I was totally legal in renting the cabins. I crossed the imaginary line of “ in the field” when I allowed the free use of a skiff to the cabin renters. The use of the skiff and the changes in Statute caused the troopers to shut me down.
I also learned that a lot of Alaska’s good hunting areas are over crowded with guides, res and non res hunters and private property owners who could potentially rent cabins and add to the problems. This is not the situation in my area of Kodiak Is. Here I have the only available private property. The surrounding lands are held by the Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge which has huge exclusive guide areas and abundant bear, goat and deer populations plus very extreme weather conditions. In this situation there are 2 guides, 2 rental cabins and a boat transporter. No conflicts have yet occurred.
To draw a resident Kodiak bear permit for these areas is a once in a life time chance for most. These 2 exclusive guide areas have about 75 miles of coast line. The goat and deer populations are at near over population levels and only about 5 tent camps appear each year because of extreme conditions and the cost of hauling in the gear.
I saw renting the cabins with no services to resident unguided hunters at a reasonable rate as a win win win situation. The hunters would have safe comfortable accommodations, I would get a modest income and the guides would know where most of the permitted hunters were during bear and goat season.
With great difficulty I have gotten my State Rep. to consider a bill to allow me to continue what I was doing and there is a chance it will be on the adjenda of the Big Game Commercial Services Board meeting March 19-21 in Fairbanks. I am not looking for any special privileges but I am not sure if a State wide fits all is the best solution either.
If you have opinions on this please post them here or contact the BGCSB and Rep. Gabrielle e Douex of Kodiak.
I have sought legal advice and delved into the topics of property rights, vested interests, and the takings clause of the Alaska Constitution. For now the BGCSB is the gentler way to go. The Kodiak paper ran the following and I am sending something similar to others.
Law halts cabin rental to unguided hunters
Article published on Friday, February 9th, 2007
By LU DOCHTERMANN and RICK METZGER
If you have an out-of-town cabin and considered renting it to deer hunters, don’t! It’s become illegal, and the penalty is high. Anyone needing protection beyond a tent has to pay a premium. New statutory language changed access by raising business licensing and related insurance costs for the non-guided Alaskan big game hunter.
When former Gov. Murkowski re-implemented the Big Game Commercial Services Board, the Legislature had to reauthorize the statutes pertaining to guides and transporters (AS 08.54.591?.680). Now, only a licensed guide, outfitter or licensed transporter may rent a cabin to a big game hunter.
While the BGCSB process can do great things for the guide and transport service, it also has the capacity to do great harms to unguided Alaskan hunters. To serve common-use interests, the process requires public vigilance and participation.
Apparently someone has already sat down with the attorney general’s office and helped tweak and rephrase some of the statutes. The laws on what you could do with your private property and how you or others can use it were already pretty strange.
The new wording is still open to interpretation and has sparked selective enforcement efforts. The clarity and constitutionality of intentions is getting lost in the untested wording. Here’s how we see it and have been told how it is.
If you have private property not “associated with a city, town or village,” you cannot rent or provide any facility, service or supply to a big game hunter. However, if your property is “associated with a city, town or village,” then you may rent or provide anything under the sun to a big game hunter. Alaska law has no legal definition of “associated.” American Heritage defines it as “connected in mind or imagination.”
In contrast to private property, state park and refuge cabins remain rentable for any hunting use. Are these double standards?
Our cabins are the only available facilities in Deadman and Sulua bays. Together, they generate dozens of two-way air charters every year, which is a pretty strong “association” with the municipality of Kodiak.
There are confusing crossover licensing issues between cabin rental business licensing, transporting, outfitting and guiding – and it is difficult to issue proper citations. We sat down with state troopers, biologists, department of law, licensing and BGCSB members to discuss unclear language, unintended consequences and how it’s led to selective enforcement.
They discussed how Alaskans will be denied opportunities to hunt, higher costs involved and how fewer hunters in the field in areas of abundance might imbalance game management. Confused definitions also mean once harvestable animals that were getting harvested, primarily by Alaskans, may now become overly abundant in particular areas.
But these are statewide statutes. Even though there is not overcrowding of available cabins and services in our area, elsewhere the new regulations become an issue of competition for dollars and animals.
To some, it has the appearance of further privatization of access privileges and effectively reserves common use resources for the benefit of a select few.
The hands of the BGCSB are tied because the language of statutes limits regulatory options. Only the Legislature can make needed corrections.
If you are a concerned hunter, property owner or service provider, please read the statutes and form your own understanding. Contact your local representative on the BGSCB (Dick Rohrer), and review your situation.
Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux is working on wording for a correcting bill; and the BGCSB is meeting in March. Like every other political process, either you get involved, or you’ll find yourself having to accept what you get. Happy hunting.
Longtime resident fisherman and avid sportsmen Lu Dochtermann co-owns rental property located at the south end of Kodiak Island. Rick Metzger is the sole permanent resident of Deadman Bay, where he operates a cabin rental service.