Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Fish and Game committee revises tines proposal


Ahead of statewide regulatory meetings scheduled for February and March, the local Advisory Committee (AC) for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s regulatory boards met at the Fire Hall on Monday to start putting together its recommendations.

High on the list of its hunting priorities for this session was Prop. 6, put forward by Wrangell’s AC. This would modify the definition of a moose antler, specifically having “spike-fork antlers” to mean antlers of a bull moose with only one or two tines on at least one antler, antler projections originating within two inches of the base of the antler and less than three inches in length will not to be counted as a tine. Male calves would not be considered spike bulls.

In its proposal, the committee expressed its opinion that burl points in excess of an inch but less than three inches are beyond what should be required of a hunter to see from a reasonable distance, finding these points easily blocked from view by the hair or ear.

A similar proposal put forward by the AC during last year’s meetings was rejected by the Board of Game, in part because it was opposed by ADFG and neighboring ACs.

Scott McAuliffe and committee chair Chris Guggenbickler subsequently worked on making the phrasing of their proposal more acceptable.

“We’ve reworded this thing,” said Guggenbickler, who felt this year it has a better chance of going through. Already it has the support of Petersburg’s AC, and resident Dave Brown said he would work to get other committees on board ahead of the meeting.

“It’s not just a local problem,” Brown said, pointing out problems on the Kenai Peninsula with its irregular regulations. He would like to get together samples of local antlers to submit to the Board of Game when it meets in Fairbanks March 18.

“If Wrangell’s serious to get this passed, it’s going to take a little work,” he said.

Wrangell’s AC was unanimously opposed to Prop. 4, which would amend the definition of bag limit from “kill” to “take.” Members felt the resulting rule as presented was very broad.

“That’s a big deal for enforcement, that word ‘take,’” Alaska Wildlife Trooper Fred Burke explained. Though open to interpretation, the phrase denotes any substantial attempt to hunt an animal.

The AC also opposed Prop. 5, modifying the definition of “edible meat” for all game birds. The new definition would include meat from the back, wings, gizzard and heart instead of just the breast, thighs and legs currently required.

The AC was largely opposed to Prop. 11, allowing the use of crossbows in restricted-weapons hunts.

“I don’t think its common archery equipment. It’s way more sophisticated, like a rifle,” said committee member Brian Merritt.

He pointed out crossbows can already be used during the regular rifle season, and takes less skill to use than traditional archery and at a greater distance. As the bow season has a head start on rifles, most committee members agreed this would be an unfair advantage.

The committee was also opposed to proposals 50, 54 and 56, which would remove the requirement for evidence of sex for hunts with bag limits of only one sex, establish an additional statewide bag limit for big game species and prohibit the transport of hide and skull of black or brown bear from the field until edible meat has been salvaged.

Wrangell’s AC also went through finfish proposals going before the Board of Fish when it meets in Anchorage March 8. The comment deadline is Feb. 18. Proposals and supplementary information are available on the Alaska BoF page at http://www.adfg.alaska.gov.

The committee unanimously supported Prop. 203, which expands the emergency order authority to close sport fishing in special harvest areas if hatchery cost recovery goals may not be met. Committee members concurred the proposal is primarily aimed at protecting broodstock.

“It looks like all the aquaculture groups in the state are behind it,” Guggenbickler noted.

The proposal was put forward by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, Southern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association, Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Kodiak Regional Aquaculture Association, Prince William Sound Aquaculture Corporation and Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

The AC was unanimously in favor of Prop. 204, which would modify the definition of an artificial fly to include the use of a bare single hook.

“Now it’s becoming popular to use a bare single hook with a single bead at the front of it,” AC member Scott McAuliffe explained.

Burke offered his professional opinion that a clarification would help simplify policing, and would benefit fishermen by keeping things fair.

“Both enforcement and the fishermen need clarification,” he explained.

Similarly, the committee approved Prop. 205, which clarifies that a bead not attached to a hook is an attractor, not a lure or fly.

The committee discussed the merits of Prop. 206 without recommending any action on it. The proposal would revise the definition of “closely attended” as it applies to coho salmon fishing, which is at the moment up to a Trooper’s discretion.

“I think they’re trying to get a better definition of it,” Burke commented. He explained that the definition can vary from one officer to the next, and the rule is mainly in place to regulate shore fishing. His rule of thumb is a matter of relative distance.

“For me, if I can beat you to your line there’s going to be issues,” Burke said.

Committee members were unanimous in their disapproval of Prop. 209, which would designate herring as a forage fish. The AC seemed to agree the move would have political ramifications, potentially tying the fish to habitat preservation for threatened species that might happen to eat them.

The committee was opposed to Prop. 210 and 211 for the same rationale, as they would respectively prohibit directed fisheries on forage fish species for the purpose of fish meal production, and prohibit the production of fish meal from whole forage fish.

“I think the department is doing a good job of managing the herring fishery now,” Eagle concluded.

Members were unanimously opposed to Prop. 214, specifying that bycatch in excess of the allowable amount will be surrendered to the state and donated to charity and also establishing fines. Discussing it, the AC concluded the wording is not specific enough to its liking.

The committee was also opposed to Prop. 126, which would establish a commercial open pound herring spawn on kelp fishery in Sitka Sound. Members were primarily opposed to a change in language which would allow herring seine permit holders in Sitka to use open platforms to harvest herring roe on kelp, concluding that allowing one permit to be used for other fisheries would set a bad precedent.

As well as continuing to review game proposals, Wrangell’s AC will hold elections at its next meeting on Jan. 28. Guggenbickler hoped to see a balance maintained in the makeup of the committee, representing the various user groups found in the community. He hopes to see a troller or two participate, which would help round out the group’s perspective and also help it present a stronger case before the Board of Fish for different proposals.


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