Kodiak committee hashes out hunting issues before game meeting
Article published on Friday, February 16th, 2007
By BRYAN MARTIN
After hashing out hunting proposals in a four-hour session, the Kodiak Fish and Game Advisory Committee Thursday sent its recommendations for consideration at the upcoming Alaska Board of Game March meeting in Anchorage.
The advisory committee took public comment Tuesday on a number of issues, including controlling bison on property in Unit 8 where two ranchers have herds grazing along the roadway leading to Chiniak; changing the boundary between registration and drawing brown bear hunt areas in Unit 8; dividing hunt areas on Afognak Island and Raspberry Island; and liberalizing registration for mountain goats on the island so that hunters would not have to register in their specific villages.
The advisory committee
Tuesday also named two new committee members. They are Layne Wilde, a hunter and fisherman who represents the Kodiak community on subsistence issues, and Pete Hannah, a Southend gill-netter.
The advisory committee chose its vice chairman Paul Chervenak to represent Kodiak at the March Alaska Board of Game meeting, which will consider state law changes March 2-12.
In addition to the Kodiak recommendations, the board has more than 200 other proposals on its agenda.
The deadline to submit written comments on proposals is 5 p.m. today, although comments received later will be accepted and distributed to board members during the meeting until they begin deliberations.
Oliver Holm, chairman of the Kodiak Fish and Game Advisory Committee, said while the state board consideration of issues is a slow process, the Kodiak issues are high on the agenda and should get early consideration.
The advisory committee decided to give area ranchers Bill Burton and Charlie Dorman more time to find solutions to prevent their buffalo from roaming onto private property or Kodiak National Wildlife Refuge lands.
The committee recommended against a proposal for an open hunting season on buffalo. Because there currently is no season the animals are not marked, preventing the Alaska Department of Fish and Game from determining ownership of roaming bison.
“If a bison gets on private property in Chiniak causing damage and won’t leave, there is no way now to tell who the animal belongs to,” Holm said.
Holm said an open season would give Fish and Game more control, but the committee “wants to give the landowners more time to contain and mark their animals.”
One possible solution before the committee is to begin fencing the grazing leases, denying open access to public lands.
Kodiak is the only place in Alaska where privately owned bison areas are not fenced.
Ranchers on state grazing leases on the southern portion of the Kodiak road system have been shifting from cattle to bison in recent years to reduce livestock losses to brown bears and to make more efficient use of natural feeds, but domestic bison are more difficult to herd and keep on lease.
The state game board will have to decide whether to tighten current laws or allow landowners to find a solution to contain their animals.
The committee also is recommending against a proposal that would change the boundary between the registration and drawing brown bear hunt areas in Unit 8 so that they conform to ridge-top boundaries rather than a straight line that is hard to find in the field.
The proposal affects hunters who target the portion of Lake Creek drainage near Saltery Lake and Elbow Creek, which are currently in the registration area but would be changed to the adjacent drawing hunt area.
Holm said the committee adopted a “status quo” position, which would have removed a large section near Saltery Lake.
The Kodiak committee also approved dividing the hunt areas into three different drawing areas on Afognak and Raspberry islands.
A proposal to liberalize registration for goat hunting by allowing hunters to register outside specific island villages is opposed by the committee.
By allowing hunters to register outside of Kodiak villages, for example in Anchorage, Kodiak residents encounter more competition on goat hunts.
The strategy of Fish and Game, which favors outside registration, is to manage hunters primarily through drawing permits.
The committee reasons the proposal would drastically increase the number of hunters afield, reduce the quality of the hunt and make registration more difficult to administer.
In 2006, the department issued 500 drawing and 135 registration permits. The committee maintains more liberal registration restrictions would increase the permits to more than1,000 annually.
“A drastic increase in registration permits may stimulate the federal subsistence board to restrict hunting on federal lands,” the committee states in its position paper.
Mirror writer Bryan Martin can be reached via e-mail at email@example.com.
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