Category Archives: Alaska Legislature

Alaska House Passes HB105 Denali Wolf Buffer Bill

From Alaska Dispatch, May 19th, 2017. Article by Nathaniel Hertz

“The state Legislature opened a new front this week in a long-running war between supporters and opponents of wolf trapping near Denali National Park and Preserve — with sportsman’s advocates on one side and proponents of tourism and conservation on the other.

In one of its last actions of the regular legislative session, the Alaska House voted 22-18 on Wednesday to pass a bill that protects wolves from trappers in two areas adjoining the park — a move aimed at giving visitors more chances to see the animals, though it’s opposed by the state Board of Game. It also faces long odds in the Senate…

…House Bill 105 would create a 530-square-mile buffer zone northeast of the park where wolf hunting and certain traps and snares are banned.”

Read the full article at Alaska Dispatch

Read the press release from the bill’s sponsor, Rep Andy Josephson, here.


Who pays for Alaska wildlife, and does it really matter to Sen. Pete Kelly? – Rick Sinnott, ADN, 4/25/16

ADN  commentary by Rick Sinnott, April 25th, 206


Alaska Sen. Pete Kelly, R-Fairbanks, takes issue with our Declaration of Independence and Constitution … He seems to believe that they meant, “All men who pay hunting license fees are created equal.”

Only 15 percent of Alaskans purchase hunting licenses and tags each year, and according to Sen. Kelly’s discriminatory rule of thumb only those Alaskans deserve to be represented on the Game Board.

Kelly wants you to believe that Alaskans who don’t hunt, and the millions of nonhunters who visit Alaska every year don’t pay for wildlife management. If that were so, Kelly might have a point. But he’s wrong…

Read the full article at ADN

Alaska shoots itself in the foot over fish and game on federal land – ADN commentary by Rick Sinott, 1/20/16

By Rick Sinnott, Alaska Dispatch News, January 20, 2016

In op-ed pieces published in September  and January, the former director of the Alaska Division of Wildlife Conservation decried federal overreach in the management of wildlife on national preserves and wildlife refuges.

Doug Vincent-Lang’s commentaries complained about recent National Park Service and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regulations that will pre-empt state hunting regulations on national preserves and refuges, lands managed by the federal agencies.

This is standard fare for Vincent-Lang, as it has been with other political appointees of former governors Frank Murkowski, Sarah Palin and Sean Parnell. Most of these appointees have followed the conservative agenda of their leaders, and some — like Vincent-Lang — seem to blame federal overreach for every conceivable failure in wildlife policy since at least 2002.

But federal overreach is a natural response to the state’s unwillingness to address public demand, as reflected in federal laws. The antithesis of “overreach” is “failure to grasp.” …

Read the whole article at Alaska Dispatch News

Federal vs State of AK approach to ethics: Battle of the op-eds

On September 9th, 2014,  Joel Hard, Deputy Regional Director for the National Park Service, Alaska, published an editorial in Alaska Dispatch News ( formerly Anchorage Daily News):

Alaska predator control methods conflict with national preserve values

“Shooting wolves and coyotes when they are at the den with young pups. Using artificial light to take black bears and their cubs in dens. Using food like stale bread and bacon grease to attract grizzly bears and then shoot them…

These are not the Alaska hunting practices I learned growing up in Southeast Alaska, and they weren’t the sport-hunting practices that Congress anticipated some 35 years ago as it debated the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Today, those practices are legal in much of Alaska. The state and its Board of Game use these and other means to reduce the numbers of bears, wolves and coyotes to boost the populations of moose and caribou. In doing so, they are following the laws passed by the Alaska Legislature…

….This week, the National Park Service proposed federal regulations that include a prohibition of the three hunting practices noted above in Alaska’s 10 national preserves. This action came after several years of discussion with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and other state officials. It came after repeated requests to the Board of Game to exempt national preserves from liberalized predator hunting efforts. And it follows multiple years of implementing temporary federal restrictions on these practices. “

Read the full editorial at ADN…

Next up, on September 20th, was Doug Vincent-Lang, director of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation:

Vincent-Lang: Pre-empted Alaska hunting regulations are not ‘predator control’

“In his Sept. 10  commentary,  Joel Hard of the National Park Service wrote that certain Alaska hunting practices were not those he learned growing up in Southeast Alaska. While I appreciate Mr. Hard’s personal hunting ethics, I do not believe the National Park Service should insert such opinions and beliefs into federal regulations…

…The regulations being preempted by the Park Service were adopted by the Alaska Board of Game in response to local (mostly subsistence) hunters’ requests to allow their traditional practices to occur. The professionals at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game did not feel it was our role to judge the ethics of these practices. While individual biologists within the department may not have personally agreed with the proposals, leadership did not feel it was our mandate to insert personal hunting ethics into the wildlife management or regulatory process….”

Read the full editorial at ADN…

Vic Van Ballenberghe, a moose and wolf biologist who was appointed to the Alaska Board of Game three times by two governors, responded to Vincent-Lange on September 22nd:

Alaska law does not justify game regulators abandoning decades-old, ethics-based statutes 

“…Vincent-Lang repeatedly states that Hard and other NPS employees used their own ethical judgments when crafting federal regulations challenging the state’s approach. But Hard’s statement that he did not grow up where shooting wolves at dens, using lights to take bears at dens, and grizzly bear baiting were legal was not a reflection of his own ethics but rather an accurate observation that these practices were long illegal under state regulations until they were recently employed to reduce predator populations…

When I served on the board at various times between 1985 and 2002, Fish and Game and the board were very much concerned with ethical standards, and previous boards since statehood clearly were too. That is why shooting wolves from airplanes by private pilots, same-day airborne shooting of all big game species, herding of animals with motor vehicles, the use of poison, transporting hunters with helicopters, trapping bears, gassing wolf pups at dens and a host of other practices were made illegal prior to 2002. But since 2002, in its zeal to accomplish intensive management, the board decided to abandon long-held ethical standards and adopt extreme methods to reduce bears and wolves. And Fish and Game stood idly by, claiming as Vincent-Lang does, that the only standard is one of maintaining sustained yield…”

Read the full editorial at ADN…


EPA has full authority in AK- Letter by Vic Van Ballenberghe

The following was submitted as a Letter to the Editor to Anchorage Daily News by Vic Van Ballenberghe. It’s worth repeating here:

Senator Cathy Giessel (Alaska decisions should be in Alaskans’ hands, ADN 2/15) claims that the EPA and the federal government have no authority to scientifically evaluate proposed harm caused by development of Pebble Mine. As a state lawmaker she should know that EPA has full authority to evaluate this project under the provisions of the federal Clean Water Act. And if the best available scientific evidence indicates the mine will violate provisions of federal laws, EPA has full authority to prevent development.

Giessel labels the mine as “an imaginary resource development project.” Apparently, it potentially threatens one of Alaska’s largest “imaginary” salmon fisheries that sustainably supports thousands of “imaginary” fisheries jobs. Giessel also states that our state’s permitting process sets “the global standard for environmental protection.” Those of us who have witnessed the past two decades of progressively weakened resource permitting regulations would disagree.

It’s been said that Pebble is the wrong mine in the wrong place at the wrong time. Should we trust state legislators or the EPA to scientifically determine if development of the mine is wrong or right?