Homer fish, game panel seeks more community involvement

With the Alaska Board of Game meeting coming up March 15 to 19 in Kenai, the Homer Fish and Game Advisory Committee’s work is done for that meeting, but the “AC,” as it’s called, would like to see more interest in Homer’s local voice on fish and game issues.

“We’re a committee to represent the constituents of Homer,” said Dave Lyon, a longtime hunter and fisherman, former guide and water taxi operator who is the new AC chairman.

The Homer AC meets at 6 p.m. the second Tuesday of each month at the NERR building on Kachemak Drive, and meets this Tuesday at 6 p.m.

Lyon took over in January from Marv Peters, chair since 2000, who stepped down after years of service. Longtime secretary Trina Fellows also retired in January. They’ll be recognized for their service at Tuesday’s meeting.

With roots going back to statehood, local advisory committees work with area biologists and Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials to help guide fish and game management decisions, or at least express their opinions to the Board of Game and Board of Fish and other management groups.

In January, the 15-member Homer AC voted and commented on proposals coming before the Board of Game. Not all the members are hunters, Lyon said.

“We have a very dedicated AC. We also have a really great cross section of folks,” he said.

The Homer AC includes big game guides, bird watchers, commercial fishermen and hunters. The issues they look at get down to the nitty gritty of science-based fish and game management.

For example, one proposal, number 143 that the board supported, would modify the bag limit for moose to 50 inches or greater or three brow tines for Game Management Units 7 and 15. Right now the limit is bulls with 50-inch racks and four brow tines.

In an 11-3 vote, the Homer AC supported that with an amendment recommending that bulls with spikes be added to the harvest.

Lyon said that recent moose estimates show the bull-to-cow ratio has increased from 9:100 to 22 bulls for every 100 cows. That increase could allow a harvest of spike-bull moose, the ones not likely to grow to be big trophy bulls. Spikes also are easy for hunters to judge.

“It’s not going to be a lot more moose taken, but there will be a few, and it will give people an opportunity to hunt and get a moose,” Lyon said.

The Homer AC generally focuses on game management issues in GMU 15C, the lower Kenai Peninsula.

Other proposals on the Board of Game agenda include suspending aerial taking of wolves in unit 15A, reauthorizing the antlerless moose season and allowing harvest of up to 100 such moose in part of 15C, allowing motorized vehicles in the lower Kenai controlled use area, modifying the registration season and bag limit for brown bears in units 15A and 15C, allowing brown bear baiting, and opening a no-closed hunting season for wolves in units 7 and 15. Votes on those issues were generally a consensus or close to it, Lyon said.

“Usually we reach pretty good consensus,” he said. “If we have a vote that’s close, it’s curious.”

The Homer AC generally advises on issues it feels are most important to the area.

“If someone comes to the meeting and says, ‘I’d like you to comment on this,’ we’ll talk about it,” Lyon said.

The Homer AC used to have more community involvement, but the community has shifted around, Lyon said. He said the AC welcomes not just hunters and fishermen, but people representative of non-consumptive user groups like photographers and wildlife viewing guides.

“But they have to be thick skinned and reasonable,” Lyon said.

The Homer AC holds its annual elections in January, with everyone present allowed to vote. Officers are elected by the board from its members. Because the Board of Game and Board of Fish proposals have to be made a year ahead, it can be tricky keeping track of when proposals have to be made. Comments also are due a month before the boards’ meetings.

For more information on the Homer AC, call Lyon at 399-3240 or email him at homeracchair@gmail.com.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.