Stedman last year proposed a bounty on sea otters, which eat shellfish Southeast divers and crabbers harvest. His bill brought strong criticism from environmental groups. And the federal agency managing otters said it would violate marine-mammal-protection law.
The legislation is still in play. Stedman says he wants to find a different way to support Native hunters, the only people allowed to harvest otters and process their pelts.
“I need to sit down with the Sealaska Heritage (Institute) and have a few more meetings in Juneau to work out what we’re actually going to change it to — if it’s going to end up trying to be marketing assistance or tanning assistance or something else,” he says. “But the chances of the bill going forward as it’s written, without being rewritten to take out the bounty, is slim.”