Recent opinion pieces published in Alaska Dispatch News have called for additional information from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game regarding plans for the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. Funding for department staff at Round Island was not included in last year’s budget and has not been proposed to be restored in next year’s budget.
We understand the interest in and concern for the Round Island funding, yet we have had to make reductions in many areas again this year and could not add the approximately $100,000 that would have put two department staff on Round Island for a full summer season.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service helped staff and fund operations on Round Island for many years, but that ceased in 2005 when they, too, faced budget challenges.
Round Island will be staffed through June 2015 while staff conduct previously funded sea lion research. We are looking at ways to secure external funding to conduct other duties as well as extend staff time on the island.
Combining the efforts of programs is one of the ways the department and all of state government are dealing with the downturn in revenues.
We appreciate the input we have received from the public on this topic and will do our best to accommodate those with an interest in visiting the island and maintaining some presence by our staff.
Sam Cotten, commissioner
Alaska Department of Fish and Game
Bruce Dale, acting director
ADF&G Division of Wildlife Conservation