Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][ocr errors]

Mr. BARTLETT. We will stand in recess for 5 minutes.
(A short recess was taken.)
(Subsequently, Mr. McKernan submitted the following statement:)
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE,

OFFICE OF REGIONAL DIRECTOR,

Juneau, Alaska, November 10, 1955.
Hon. LEO W. O'BRIEN,
Chairman, Subcommittee on Territories,
House Committee on Interior and Insular Affairs,

House of Representatives, Washington, D. C.
DEAR SIR: In answer to a request by Delegate Bartlett at a hearing in Juneau
on September 28, 1955. I am submitting further information on questions put to
me at this hearing. It was brought out by committee members that testimony
in Dillingham on Bristol Bay by someone indicated that 20,000 fish (or 20.000
pounds ) were refused by a cannery, supposedly this summer, and it was necessary
to dispose or throw the fish away. Upon looking into our records in this matter,
I find that in 1953 a spell of very hot weather during the fishing season caused
spoilage of a number of red salmon. The law provides that the fish must be
used within 48 hours after capture but in this instance the fish soured before the
48-hour period. Our management people investigated and found no violation
of the law insofar as they could ascertain. It was considered to be an act of
God and luckily has been a very rare thing. The cannery could hardly be blamed
for not wishing to accept the spoiled fish and could not have marketed the fish.
This is the only incident we have record of in recent years. There has been no
spoilage of fish or wastage reported to us either this year or last.

Another question came up about the arrest by the Fish and Wildlife Service of some 74 fishermen fishing in an illegal area during this past Bristol Bay fishing season. Our enforcement men report that these fishermen were all fishing more than 2 miles outside the legal fishing area and it was their opinion that the fishermen knew they were in closed waters but because of poor fishing within the legal area they were willing to take a chance with the inclement weather and poor visibility in the closed area. There were 4 of the violators residents and 70 nonresident fishermen. Two of the resident fishermen happened to be fishing on a boat which by mistake had the same registration number as another fishing boat in that area. They were judged not guilty. However, an arrest and conviction was made of the cannery who had duplicated the boat numbers. The fishermen who pleaded guilty were fined $150 each, while those who plead not guilty and asked for a jury trial were found guilty and fined $250. These fines were judged reasonable in view of the offense committed and compare with fines levied for the same offense in other areas of Alaska.

Another question arose during my testimony about whether or not fish traps could be seized as well as any other kind of gear for fishery violations and the answer is that fish traps can be seized as well as gill nets, purse seines, or any other type of gear taken illegally. It so happens that the White Act modified on June 6, 1924 (43 Stat. 465; 18 U. S. C. 225, 234, 226–228), entitled “An act for the protection of the fisheries of Alaska, and for other purposes." indicates that every boat, seine, net, trap, and every other gear or appliance used or employed in violation of this act or in violation of said act approved June 26, 1906, and all fish taken therein or therewith, shall be forfeited to the United States, and shall be seized and sold under the direction of the court in which the forfeiture is declared, at public auction, and the proceeds thereof, after deducting the expenses of the sale, shall be disposed of as other fines and forfeitures under the law relating to Alaska. It will be noted from this statement that the gear and fish shall be seized and sold under the direction of the court. While we have obtained excellent cooperation from the courts in handling the fish, they have been reluctant to consider the fisheries offenses of sufficient seriousness to confiscate large fishing boats or expensive fishing gear. Therefore, it has been rare to have the fishing boats confiscated. I am concerned about illegal fishing in Alaska, and shall study the matter of more severe penalties to discourage persistent violators.

Considerable time during the hearing was devoted to the matter of protecting the rights of Indians to take fish and I should like to expand my answers to specific questions on this matter. The law provides that personal-use fishing is allowed during open fishing periods in open fishing waters for personal use, and also provides that there are certain exceptions to allow personal-use fishing

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

in otherwise closed areas during the regular fishing season. For example, at Dillingham in Bristol Bay, there is an open area in front of the town of Dillingham, where natives can fish for personal use at any time. Also, both before and after the commercial fishing season, personal-use fishing is allowed anywhere, and the natives are allowed, and can and do fish within the streams and even on the spawning beds for their winter food and dog food. The matter of allowing personal use fishing during closed weekend periods or in closed periods during the fishing season is a matter of enforcement. We have had a number of examples of where before the present regulations were put into effect we have observed that the closed perionls were simply not observed by anyone. Set nets for example, were fished right through the closed period in Bristol Bay in sort of a “Kings X" manner; when the fishermen were questioned, they were fishing for personal use, but when a patrolman was not present, the fish were sold to the nearest buyer's scow or cannery.

At Klukwan native village on the Chilkat River another example of this occurs. This village is located approximately 25 miles up the Chilkat River from the commercial gill net area. Personal-use fishing is permitted at all times for salmon by gill net. Each year fish from these personal use nets have been smuggled down and sold to the cannery. The Government agents eachi Vear have spent a good many man-hours trying to prohibit this and not interfere with the people who were taking fish for personal use. This season, after considerable complaint by people in the area and great efforts by our enforcement agents, a native was apprehended for this and fined $2.50). It was a discouraging task and one that prevented proper patrol of other essential fish-producing areas.

Since in most cases natives can wait until the commercial season opens before selling the fish, there is no easy way for us to check this. For proper enforcement, we would be required to station a patrolman at every buying station and scow in every district in Alaska, an impossible procedure. It is my opinion that there is ample opportunity for natives to get fish for personal use. The main problem at the present time is that the fish runs are in low abundance and therefore, except during the very peak of the season, when commerrial fishing is allowed, it is difficult for anyone to obtain enough salmon near the end of the season or before the season to fully satisfy their needs. The salmon also are so very valuable that the natives tend to sell every salmon they can and to provide none during the commercial season for their winter use. I believe that the objections to the present regulations would largely be stilled if and when the salmon runs in Alaska are restored.

If any further information is desired on the fisheries problems of Alaska, please be assured that I will cooperate to the fullest extent in attempting to furnish such data as is available. Respectfully yours,

DONALD L. MCKERNAN,

Administrator of Alaska Commercial Fisheries. Mr. BARTLETT. The meeting will come to order. Mr. Clarence Rhode, area supervisor, Fish and Wildlife Service. I should state particularly for Judge Chenoweth's benefit that Mr. Rhode testified before the committee at Fairbanks, and I understand his appearance here is primarily or exclusively to answer any questions which the committee members may ask by reason of information they gained on matters put to them after we were at Fairbanks.

Ms. Pfost?

Mrs. Prost. I will forego my questioning until later and reserve my time.

Mr. BARTLETT. Mr. Utt?
Mr. Utt. I would pass temporarily in view of the fact that Mr.
McKernan answered a great many questions I had on my mind to pro-
pound to Mr. Rhode.

Mr. BARTLETT. Judge Chenoweth ?
Mr. CHENOWETH. No questions.

Mrs. Prost. Mr. Chairman, I would like to ask Mr. Rhode about what, if anything, you are doing in the Palmer area. We have heard

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

а

testimony to the effect that the farmers up there are being overwhelmed with herds of moose coming in and eating their pasture, their hay, and so forth, and they are trying to increase their dairy herds to furnish milk for the community. What, if anything, is being done to alleviate that hardship on the farmer? FURTHER STATEMENT OF CLARENCE RHODE, AREA SUPERVISOR,

FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE, DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Mr. RHODE. Mrs. Pfost, there are several things we are doing. That situation was bad last winter and might not be bad again for several years.

It was brought about primarily by the very deep snow we had in the Anchorage area. It was a record snow. I don't think they have ever had one that deep previously, which, of course, aggravated the situation. The moose caused a great deal of trouble on the railroad, on the highway, in the Palmer area, wherever a plowed area presented itself.

To alleviate that situation we have made our regulations much more lenient. We have provided less restrictive regulations and longer seasons to provide a greater kill to reduce the size of that herd.

One of the complications has been that the Palmer people came in and took over the possessory rights of the moose and it takes a while for the moose to acclimate themselves to the idea that they can't continue to feed in the same places where they have. Or if there is a better source of food such as a haystack, they will tackle it, particularly in deep snow.

It has been further aggravated by the fact that the spruce forest has taken over some of the wintering grounds, has crowded out the willow, which is their principal winter food, and forced them to look for other areas for feed.

I think the situation will take care of itself very shortly. There will always be a little damage there, but I think you have to expect a little bit. The moose herd is a very valuable thing. We have more than 10,000 moose in lower Susitna Valley, and those are the property of all of the people, and they are much enjoyed and very highly utilized.' Several million dollars worth of moose meat has been harvested there each year. It is a big business. Yet it does conflict a little with man when he came in and farmed the very areas that were the prime wintering grounds for a number of those moose.

We can't build a moose fence. We have experimented with some method to keep them off the railroad track. The kill has been very substantial there. We have tried electric wires and buzzers and sirens and various things, but none of them have been very successful.

I can't tell you that we have a solution to it, but we think that reduced numbers of moose, plus counting on the fact we won't have snow that deep very often, will alleviate much of the trouble.

Mrs. Prost. You say you have reduced the herd at Palmer. Approximately how many moose were in the herd at its maximum in that area and what would be the approximate number today?

Mr. RHODE. That is an awfully hard question to answer because we don't have what we know as a Palmer herd. I guess I can't answer it. But we have made the regulations more liberal. The kill has been higher the last 2 years than anytime in our records.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

Mrs. Prost. When you say you try to reduce the moose by allowing a greater kill what do you mean by that-2 per year as against 1 per year previously? Or what do you mean?

Mr. Ruode. No, we don't have a multiple season on moose--I mean a multiple bag limit_because it is such a large animal. We have a longer season and time it a little differently. For instance, instead of the season closing—it did open September 1 and close September 20. This year it opened August 20 and ran until September 30. Then we have a winter season from November 10 to November 30, because in the winter you get an almost entirely different group of animals than you do in the summer. They come down out of the high hills where they are more or less inaccessible in September, and they then work on a different segment of the moose population.

Mrs. Prost. Now, Mr. Rhode, switching to the Kodiak area, we heard testimony in Kodiak by the cattle ranchers of that area stating that their herds are being depleted by the bear. What are you doing to relieve that condition?

Mr. RHODE. Actually the losses to bears have been so light as to be almost inconsequential the last few years. One year I believe it was three. Another year I think the highest number lately on record the last 4 or 5 years is 7 animals. Certainly it isn't a substantial figure. Their losses have been caused in a large measure by other things than bears according to the studies that have been made there-losses from not enough winter pasture, natural nutrition from poison hemlock, from falling off cliffs. A number of things have taken a higher kill than the bears have.

There are some losses, and we have allowed under our law their right to shoot any bear that is about to molest persons or property. We even sent two of our control agents in there to get a couple of troublesome bears that had become cattle killers or were alleged to have.

Again, it is a conflict with man in his endeavors. The bears are quite valuable, too. We think the bears on Kodiak are far more valuable than any cattle industry has been to date. There is room for both, but there will always be some conflict.

Mrs. Prost. As I recall the testimony at Kodiak, those ranchers told us they were not allowed to hunt the bear unless the bear had actually killed an animal, and then they were allowed to pursue the bear and try to kill it.

Mr. RHODE. We don't allow unlimited hunting. That would mean complete defeat for any kind of management of them. But we have taken the attitude that if they are present in close proximity to the cattle, that they can kill the bear, and they have done it. We have never made any prosecution for that.

Mrs. Prost. That is very enlightening.
Mr. Sisk. Will the lady yield?
Mrs. Prost. Yes.

Mr. Sisk. You made a statement that the bear were more valuable than the cattle would ever be. Did you make a statement to that effect.

Mr. RHODE. I said they are more valuable now than the cattle industry to this date. Most of that has been a speculation enterprise. We have taken the attitude there should be a place for the bears, too,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small]

25 met

that both can live there. But there will be a conflict on the borderline between them.

Mr. Sisk. What are the bears worth? I fail to get the value you seem to be attaching to the bear.

Mr. RHODE. Our studies indicate that an average of some $2,500 apiece is spent in Alaska for each bear that is killed. From that standpoint alone—that is monetary value. Of course, they have an esthetic value. It is the only place under the American Hag where these animals live. Not just Kodiak but Alaska is their last stand.

Mr. Sisk. Arent there literally millions and millions of acres in Alaska that people don't propose to farm or run cattle on!

Mr. RHODE. Well, yes, sir. Most of it probably isn't suitable for running cattle.

Mr. Sisk. The point I am making, Mr. Rhode: Of course, you understand we are up here hearing industry with reference to industrial development and the need for industry in Alaska. So I think it comes down to a matter that, if you desire to make this Territory a great game preserve, then probably the people should move out and not try to develop industry.

Mr. Ruode. I dont think that our record will indicate that, sir, because on Kodiak, for instance, you are probably aware when that was set up as a bear management area a 1-mile strip clear around the island was made available for any use that might be deemed necessary or requested. And that would cover essentially the area that would be utilized. On the northeast corner of Kodiak Island where any cattle industry existed that was eliminated. That isn't in a bear refuge or bear management area. So there has been quite a bit of development around Kodiak Island.

We have taken the stand you can have development and still have some wildlife. We don't go along with the thesis that every bear should be killed because somebody lost a couple of cattle, any more than they do it in the United States.

Mr. Sisk. I would agree with you completely on that. But certainly, according to the testimony-and there are, I might say, with reference to testimony given down at Kodiak, ranchers who have invested in 1 case I know of a hundred thousand dollars in 1 single ranch. Of course, there were several ranchers who testified and others mentioned it. So apparently there is quite an industry developing along that line.

Now one rancher mentioned the loss of some $10,000 to bears, actual kill. I mean that doesn't entirely coincide with your earlier statement. I would like to find out just what the attitude of the Fish and Wildlife Service is with reference to these ranchers. They, in many case, seem to feel that you fellows feel the bear are a lot more important than they are and maybe the sooner they leave the better off they would be.

I would like to hear you express your views on that.

Mr. RHODE. My attitude is that there is room on Kodiak for the bears and for some cattle ranching, too, but that I don't think the bears should be shoved off completely. I don't think it is proper. I don't think you would get back the natural resource or a production that would equal the value of the bears to just destroy them with an organized campaign. Some ranchers would like to have us do that. I think that we should do everything we can to mitigate their losses.

« AnteriorContinuar »