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Response to Art
Posted by bushrat on May 05 2006

The Board of Game, as far as I know, is not allowing oral testimony for the upcoming MAY meeting next week. Perhaps you have access to Board members to offer "oral" testimony in private. I only wish we all had the same access as you do. This kind of access you spoke of earlier, and your advertisement to hire on as a paid lobbyist to the Board of Game based on your past employment with ADFG boards and your friendship with Board members raises a lot of ethical issues for me. If the Board will hear oral testimony in Anchorage next week, it's the first I've heard of it. If I'm wrong on that, please correct me. Comment period for submitting written comments ends today.

I think the issue in NW Alaska has been brewing for a while. The extreme wanton waste of last fall, after the heavy rains and many hunters being stuck in the field, brought it to a head. When villagers see so much meat brought in that is putrid, and see so much in the dumpster, I don't blame them for being upset. Probably, as you say, Alaskans also waste some meat. I think if you did a survey on the percentage of non-res hunters who bring home their meat, you'd find that most of them do not.

It should not be the job of villagers to set up a meat processing facility in order to curb the waste of meat by non-locals. To curb the waste of meat requires more education on meat care for hunters, and I'm afraid it will also take much more enforcement and more stringent regulations. It will also require the transporters to become heavily involved in both turning in violators of the wanton waste regs (which  they are not doing now)and providing adequate freezer capabilities and information given BEFORE THE HUNT about wanton waste issues. The Working Group's proposal to limit non-residents to two caribou was a perceived way to alleviate some of the problem. You're right, it isn't just a non-resident issue, and based on what is happening in other areas of the state I agree that in future the hammer could also come down on non-locals. The reality though is that meat is being wasted in large quantities and this is what is causing this problem in this area. When villagers can legally take so many caribou, they don't need any more meat "donated" to the village in such quantities. The trophy hunting of rutted bulls is also a problem, and frankly the laws that allow disposal of meat once it has been transported back to a hub need to be changed. It shouldn't be legal to dump meat in a land fill as part of a loophole in the transfer-of-possession regs.

There may be no biological justification right now to limit anyone's take of caribou. The justification is that wanton waste of caribou meat in NW Alaska is apparently out of control and needs to be curtailed. The transfer-of-possession regs allow a lot of bad things to go on regarding meat care. This also promotes a kind of "I'll just donate it to the poor people" mentality among many hunters. It's causing a lot of problems. Not the least of which is a perceived "racism" that cuts both ways.


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