Saying it's an unnecessary burden on Alaska subsistence users, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is asking Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to review a 2001 opinion saying subsistence hunters in Alaska need to buy a federal migratory hunting and conservation stamp - known as a duck stamp - for spring and summer hunts.
In a letter to Sec. Salazar, Begich says the duck stamp requirement is too costly, overly burdensome for hunters and enforcement officers, and is contrary to subsistence uses.
"Purchasing duck stamps is also a financial hardship for many subsistence users who have little opportunity to participate in the cash economy and depend upon the taking of migratory birds and other subsistence resources for their physical, economic, traditional and cultural existence," Begich writes.
The federal Duck Stamp Act, passed in 1934 to pay for the purchase of new waterfowl habitat, requires waterfowl hunters aged 16 or older buy the stamps. Traditionally, Alaska subsistence hunters were exempt from buying the stamps, but that has changed over the years. In 2001, the Interior Department's regional solicitor in Alaska issued an opinion saying subsistence hunters need to buy and carry the stamps.
Several groups, including the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives, have brought the issue up with Sen. Begich and asked him to intervene.
In the letter to Salazar, Begich says a review of the 2001 opinion is appropriate in light of the concerns brought forward and President Obama's directive to heads of executive departments and agencies to engage in regular and meaningful consultation with tribal officials on federal policies having tribal implications.
"I request the solicitor's office consult with affected tribal entities in Alaska regarding this matter and review its 2001 opinion," Begich said.