Alaska Subsistence
A National Park Service Management History
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Chapter 6:

G. SRC Wildlife Management Issues

Title VIII of ANILCA, and the regulations that followed in their wake, were unclear regarding which organizations would have a major say in wildlife management decisions in the various newly-established national park units. Secretary Watt's May 1982 decision that the State of Alaska had satisfied the mandates of ANILCA's Section 804 made it clear that the State would play a lead role in wildlife management, but NPS officials reserved the right to influence subsistence harvest decisions within national park unit boundaries. And as several 1984 letters by NPS officials made clear (regarding bear and caribou regulations in Gates of the Arctic National Park), the agency had every intention of recommending changes in the wildlife regulations when necessary. (See Chapter 5.)

Minnie Gray
Minnie Gray, an Inupiat from Ambler, is seen butchering a caribou in this mid-1970s photo. During the 1980s, SRCs demanded the right to make game-related proposals, but Interior Department officials disagreed with them, ruling that their role was "not practicable." NPS (ATF, Box 8), photo 1161-7, Robert Belous photo

The SRCs, which became active in the spring of 1984, were given varying instructions as to their role in wildlife management within the national parks and monuments. NPS officials told the Gates of the Arctic SRC, for example, that "Some state regulations could be addressed. It would not be redundant of the Fish and Game Advisory Committee and Regional Council's obligations of reviewing regulations." Furthermore, it was "perfectly legitimate to comment on specific proposals to the Game Board." The Lake Clark and Denali SRCs were also told that they could recommend changes to the hunting regulations; they were forewarned, however, that all recommendations had to be submitted to the Interior Secretary (as noted in Section 808), who could then recommend changes in the state fish and wildlife regulations. The Cape Krusenstern SRC, at its first meeting, looked forward to addressing wildlife management issues because "subsistence issues were not being adequately addressed in the Advisory Committee system." NPS officials, in response, suggested that commission members "go through the regulation booklet and mark things that bother [them] the most. They could then discuss them at the next meeting and start working on those issues" so "that the regulations be written closer to the way people actually live. In this manner people will not be violating the law every time they go subsistence hunting." Commission members were told that working on wildlife regulations was a valid (and direct) SRC function because "when the recommendations go to the Secretary, they will also be sent to the Governor." [165]

During the next several years, the various SRCs made occasional generalized wildlife management recommendations. In August 1985, for example, the Wrangell-St. Elias SRC—despite specific language from Senate Report 96-413 stating that "[i]t is contrary to the National Park Service concept to manipulate habitat or populations"—passed a resolution stating that "resource management (predator control) is needed in order to provide for the customary and traditional use of the subsistence resources as mandated in ANILCA." And that November, the combined Cape Krusenstern and Kobuk Valley SRCs expressed concern over the "limited reporting of Dall Sheep kill" in the western Brooks Range. [166] But they stopped short of recommending specific changes in seasons and bag limits, evidently feeling that their influence was better directed to either the regional advisory councils or the local fish and game advisory committees. (In January 1986, in fact, the Cape Krusenstern-Kobuk Valley SRCs "decided not to act on the changes in the sheep hunting regulations by the Board of Game," but have Pete [Schaeffer] bring this to the local ADF&G Advisory Board at their next meeting.") NPS officials, during the same period, made a number of specific hunting proposals, and by the fall of 1986, Regional Director Boyd Evison was submitting a single, yearly, statewide series of agency recommendations for the state game board to consider. [167]

The Gates of the Arctic SRC, hoping to retain its role in specific wildlife management decisions, sent a hunting plan recommendation to the Interior Secretary stating that it "will continue to work with local fish and game advisory committees, regional councils, and with the boards of fisheries and game to ensure that resource values are protected," and it further recommended that the agency should use the SRC as a "sounding board" for "all NPS recommendations and proposals to the state boards of fisheries and game." But the Interior Department, citing scheduling concerns, threw cold water on the SRC's proposal. It noted that

Given the time constraints of the State's regulation proposal process, NPS and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game are not always able to consult each other (as required by their Memorandum of Understanding) on proposals each may be submitting for consideration. Considering the time and expense required to conduct a Commission meeting, it is not practicable to use the Commission as a "sounding board" for NPS recommendations to the boards of fisheries and game. When possible, however, the NPS would like to discuss wildlife allocation proposals with the Commission. [168]

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Last Updated: 14-Mar-2003