By Libby Casey
Alaska’s Senators say rural Alaskans hunting birds for subsistence should not have to get a federal permit. U-S Fish and Wildlife is requiring the “duck stamps” for hunting or gathering birds’ eggs. The fifteen-dollar permits are used throughout the country, but Alaskan subsistence hunters have long gotten an exemption… that is now ending.
Fish and Wildlife is starting enforcement and ticketing this spring.
Senators Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski have introduced legislation in Washington to counter that – it would remove the requirement for Alaska’s subsistence users.
Senator Murkowski says the duck stamps are not traditional practice for Alaska’s hunters.
What we’re seeing is stepped up enforcement by Fish and Wildlife to enforce under the terms of the requirement regardless of what has happened historically. And so if we can’t get the assistance just from within the agency, we feel like it’s important enough to those who are subsistence users to put in law that they would be exempt from the duck stamp provisions.
Earlier this month Senator Begich wrote to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to review the duck stamp requirement. In 2001, the Interior Department’s regional solicitor in Alaska found that subsistence hunters should be made to buy and carry the stamps. But Begich says that’s a hardship, and not realistic in rural Alaska.
Already a limited cash economy out there, to have them expend a resource on a stamp that is really in my view a partial violation of the agreement US has with Canada, allowing for the taking of bird and eggs without a stamp, I think is problematic. So we’re hopefully trying to resolve this, I’d love the administration to resolve this, but if they’re not willing to do it, then I think legislatively we have to take some action.
Groups including the Alaska Federation of Natives and the Association of Village Council Presidents are advocating to get the duck stamp requirement removed.
The Senators’ bill now goes to the Environment Committee in the Senate.