Concern has been building in Alaska that a Department of Public Safety reorganization early in the Murkowski administration has reduced effective fish and wildlife law enforcement. The reorganization eliminated the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection, replacing it with the Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement. Last fall, the Alaska Boards of Fisheries and Game wrote Commissioner Tandeske expressing their concern and requesting statistics. Here is the text of that letter. Public Safety responded at a mid winter meeting of the Boards.
Dear Commissioner Tandeske:
Both the Board of Game and Board of Fisheries have recently held some of their annual regulatory meetings at which the issue of fish and wildlife enforcement has been a major topic. Quite frankly, public testimony has pointed directly at an obvious decreasing fish and wildlife enforcement presence -especially at some of the more remote areas of the state.
Both boards realize that fish and wildlife enforcement priorities have always shifted depending on the fish and wildlife seasons at hand. In addition, legislative priorities have resulted in vacillating budgets for both the Troopers and Fish and Wildlife Enforcement personnel. However, we are concerned that the recent combination of the two divisions has resulted in less emphasis on our fish and wildlife resources.
Considerable emphasis has been made by this administration concerning the maximum utilization of our fish and wildlife resources to benefit Alaskans. As instructed, both boards have attempted to implement this strategy, along with addressing the ever-increasing social conflicts over resource allocations such as subsistence, sport, commercial, and personal uses. All of our efforts are futile, however, if inadequate enforcement is present to assure that the boards' regulations and plans have a reasonable chance of being properly implemented.
The Board of Game and the Board of Fisheries respectfully request activity statistics from the Department of Public Safety so that we can proceed with our busy regulatory schedule beginning early next year. If enforcement efforts have diminished significantly since the reorganization in August 2003, then it will behoove both boards to examine the enforceability of our specific regulations much more closely.
We request the following data:
1. All Alaska Public Safety Information Network (APSIN) activity statistics for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection troopers from July 1, 2000 through June 30, 2003, provided in monthly printouts.
2. All APSIN activity statistics for all Alaska Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement (ABWE) troopers from July 1,2004 through June 30,2005, provided in monthly printouts.
3. All APSIN activity statistics for the Wildlife Investigations Unit from July 1, 2000 through June 30,2003, provided in monthly printouts.
4. All APSIN activity statistics for the Wildlife Investigations Unit from July 1, 2004 through June 30,2004, provided in monthly printouts.
5. An annual budget summary for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection and Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement from July 1,2000 through June 30,2005.
6. All APSIN activity statistics identified in 1 & 2 above for the following posts: Fairbanks, Palmer, Wasilla, Bethel, Kotzebue, Nome, King Salmon, Kodiak, Soldotna, Homer, and Sitka.
7. A comparison of personnel location assignments and filled trooper positions for the Division of Fish and Wildlife Protection and the Bureau of Wildlife Enforcement from July 1,2000 to June 30,2005.
If possible, we would request this information by early January of 2006 so that it can be provided to the separate boards at their January meetings. It will be extremely beneficial in helping us in establishing our regulatory priorities and in making recommendations concerning our fish and wildlife management and conservation responsibilities to the governor and legislature.
Your assistance is greatly appreciated. If you need any additional clarification, please let us know as soon as possible.
Mike Fleagle, Board of Game / Art Nelson, Board of Fisheries