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Another Wildlife Fee?


Matthew Simon /  CBS / KTVA / February 13, 2006

Are you one of the many Alaskans who counts down to the summer, so you can go on a wildlife viewing tour? Or perhaps take your out-of-town guests on one of them? If an Anchorage lawmaker has his way, those tours will get more expensive.

Senator Con Bunde says if you do not have a hunting, fishing, or trappers license and you're between 16 and 60-years-old, you should be required to pay an additional five bucks annually, or you would not get to go on your tour.

The reason?

Bunde says Alaskan hunters and anglers are very frustrated that the money they pay toward their licenses is going to support non-game species you view for free. So Bunde says it's your responsibility to pay a so-called users fee if you want to go on an Alaskan wildlife tour.

Major Marine Tour Promo Video:
"...on our cruises you generally see otter,eagles, puffins, whales, sea lions, and massive bird Rookeries."

If you're planning on any sort of Alaskan wildlife tour, on a cruise, a bus or a train: Anchorage Senator Bunde says you should legally be required to support looking at our wildlife by buying a conservation tag. What this means in plain English: a five dollar pin that you would have to buy and wear in order to take your tour.

"A person who's coming here just to be a birder and view birds should be just as willing to pay a user fee--should be just as willing as someone who wants to hunt moose," said Bunde.

"I don't think it should be passed at all," said Russ Mager, Tour Company Owner.

Major Marine Tour owner Mager, does not want Senate Bill 166 passed because he says it will ultimately hurt tourism.

"When I go to Hawaii to enjoy the beaches, and the sun, I don't expect to pay an extra fee to look at the things particular to that nature of the woods," said Mager.

"We think this legislation may propose some additional problems," said Ron Peck, Alaska Tourism Industry Asn.

Alaska Travel Industry officials say they see problems with a proposed law they feel would unfairly target certain groups.

"You have folks who change clothes. Who may be a little older and forget where the pin is. Forget that they even purchased the pin. We really see that as challenge. It's not like a fishing license," said Peck.

"If they value current opportunities they have, they should look at this as a user fee. Because if we were to reverse their argument, would they suggest that people who hunt or fish shouldn't have to buy a license, to access that recreational opportunity?" said Bunde.

Bunde's goal is to raise two to four million dollars, which would all be put in some sort of Fish and Game fund. Bunde says ultimately that money would be used to enhance the way we all view Alaska's wildlife.

Please see the following sites for more information on the Wildlife Conservation Tag.

http://www.akrepublicans.org/include/factsheets/24/SB_166.pdf

http://www.akrepublicans.org/bunde/24/spst/bund_sb166.php

http://www.legis.state.ak.us/PDF/24/Bills/SB0166A.PDF

To contact Matthew, call 907-273-3104

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