The BOG members are appointed by the governor to serve three-year terms, and must be confirmed by the legislature. It is possible for appointees to be considered voting members of the BOG prior to the legislature confirming them as formal BOG members.
On April 1, 2019, Governor Dunleavy announced his appointees for three seats opening up on the BOG in 2019: Mr. Jerry Burnett, Mr. Orville Huntington, and Mr. Al Barrette. The House and Senate Resources Committees will be discussing the Governor’s BOG appointees on Friday April 12, 2019 at 1:00pm (House) and 3:30pm (Senate), and will be taking public testimony.
One of the current appointees, Mr. Al Barrette, was a controversial pick when he was appointed to the BOG in 2010. He was allowed to participate as a voting member of the BOG at the March 2010 meeting prior to his confirmation hearing, but was removed from the BOG when he was not confirmed by the legislature. During his Senate Resources Committee Hearing on April 7, 2010, questions about Mr. Barrette’s stance and voting record highlighted his strong perspective for increasing intensive management predator control programs in Alaska, his active role in removing the wildlife buffer zone around Denali National Park, and his disregard for fair chase standards by voting to increase trapping and bear baiting opportunities. Not only does he own a tannery, but he also manufactures and sells wolf traps, and was a permitted gunner for hunting wolves by airplane.
Through our Voices for Wildlife program, the Alaska Wildlife Alliance advocates for ethical management practices that take an ecosystem approach to wildlife management; establishing fair representation on the BOG to ensure there is representation of all wildlife users; and encouraging public participation in decision-making processes, including the confirmation of political appointees to the BOG. If Mr. Barrette is confirmed as a BOG member, his perspectives will likely influence the BOG to make even more extreme wildlife management decisions.
On April 12th, you have the opportunity to be a voice for wildlife by providing public testimony about the Governor’s political appointees to the Board of Game who have all the power for making wildlife hunting and trapping regulations in Alaska. Unlike the federal rule-making process, the Alaska BOG and the Alaska Legislature do take into consideration the number of Alaskans supporting or opposing an action. As such, we urge you provide testimony at the legislative hearing considering the Governor’s appointees for the Board of Game. Your voice matters – you just have to let it be heard!
How to Testify at the April 12th Legislative Hearing Regarding the Governor’s Appointees to the BOG:
IN PERSON: You can attend the meeting in person, or at a Legislative Information Office (LIO) near you. LIOs act as an extension of the formal committee room for teleconferenced hearings.
BY PHONE: You can call in and provide testimony telephonically. The call-in number is not published, so prior to the meeting you will need to call the Juneau Legislative Information Office (907-465-4648) to let them know you want to testify over the phone and they will provide further instructions. For more information about testifying telephonically, review this Tip Sheet.
IN WRITING: If you cannot attend the meeting or call-in during the meeting, you can submit your testimony in writing via email:
Please submit your written comments to both email addresses so both the House and the Senate Resources Committees will receive it. Be sure to reference you are testifying about the Governor’s Appointees for the Board of Game in the subject line.
Concerns about Mr. Barrette brought to the forefront in 2010:
In addition to owning and operating the Fairbanks Fur Tannery, Mr. Barrette manufactures and sells wolf traps, and has been a permitted gunner as part of the aerial hunting of wolves predator control program. In a 2010 ADN article associated with his 2010 appointment to the BOG, he was quoted as saying “I will definitely be a representative for the trappers”. During the March 2010 BOG meeting, he voted against restricting trapping in residential areas in Healy, despite strong local support from Healy residents and community concerns about pets being inadvertently trapped and killed near homes.
During the March 2010 BOG meeting, not only did Mr. Barrette oppose the Denali Buffer Zone, but he also supported the moratorium preventing the consideration of a reimplementation of a buffer zone for at least six years.
From 2000 to 2010, the Alaska Board of Game approved the closure of certain areas outside of but adjacent to the eastern region of Denali National Park (the buffer zone) to wolf hunting and trapping year-round in order to protect wolf viewing opportunities in the park. In 2010, the Board of Game eliminated the buffer zone and voted to prevent reconsideration of a buffer zone for at least six years. In 2017, the National Park Service submitted a proposal to the Board of Game to reinstate a buffer zone, but the Board of Game denied the request. There is no habitat buffer zone in place today. Learn more about the Denali Buffer Zone and its benefits.
After voting to repeal the Denali Buffer Zone, Mr. Barrette suggested the BOG authorize using a snow machine to harvest wolves in the “old” buffer zone. No other members supported the ideas and the BOG Chairman, Cliff Judkins, was quoted as saying “I just cringe at the thought of a snow machine running down the park boundary chasing wolves – it’s almost beyond me.” When questioned about this during his confirmation hearing, he replied it was just table talk, not an amendment or anything else, and that after listening to public input and advisory committee input, his opinion about chasing wolves in snow machines is neutral.
During the Senate Resources Committee Hearing on April 7, 2010 (start at page 13 for the transcript regarding Mr. Barrette’s hearing; public testimonials start at page 22), several other concerns were brought forth about Mr. Barrette’s voting record and wildlife management perspectives.
Concerns were expressed that there was a conflict of interest in Mr. Barrette voting on the Denali buffer zone issue, and that he should have recused himself from voting given his personal business had the potential to profit from removal of the zone since it would lead to increased wolf trapping opportunities.
When asked his perspective about the state’s biological management of predators, Mr. Barrette answered that all the current predator control programs are effective and he likes them.
When asked if he voted to authorize the baiting of brown bears, Mr. Barrette replied he “made one of those newbie errors, and yes, I did put that on the table”. He also amended a proposal to allow baiting bears in Interior Alaska when residents, tourists and families are actively fishing, hiking, and camping in the month of July; “it was substantially voted down” by other BOG members.
When questioned about why he advocated for commercial guides (and potentially non-residents) to be allowed 10 bait stations, when Alaskan residents are only allocated 2 stations, and if prior to voting there was discussion about that violating the Alaska constitution’s equal access clause, Mr. Barrette said he thought the majority of the board was in favor of allowing guides to have more bear baits because it would be safer and more efficient in the field, and that while he did vote in favor of more bear baits he did not know if it violated Alaska’s constitution as he did not seek professional review of the constitution.
Mr. Barrette confirmed that he voted to allocate to nonresident use or to suppress resident use seasons on several occasions.
During an interview with Backpacker Magazine, Mr. Barrette was videoed skinning a wolf and saying “It specifically puts out in the first book of the Bible, in Genesis, that we should subdue nature and control it. We should be the managers of the animals and through the sin of Adam and Eve is what brought it on and in fact the first clothes that were made for Adam and Eve were skins of animals by God”. When asked to clarify what he meant by this statement during his confirmation hearing, Mr. Barrette denied there is any kind of biblical foundation to his view of wildlife management. Instead he said what he meant to say was that he believes game should be managed and that should be done through professional data, input from the public and elected advisory committees. He further commented that the opposite of managing is just to "let Mother Nature take care of itself" and that you can't manage for sustainability by letting Mother Nature do it.
Several of the members of the public who testified opposing Mr. Barrette at the 2010 hearing expressed concerns about his claims that he listens to members of the public and Advisory Councils, but then votes or lobbies for contrary positions; only supports hunters’ perspectives and does not consider other perspectives, such as those of non-consumptive users; regularly favors non-resident hunters’ rights over resident and subsistence hunters’ rights; has radical or extreme perspectives, even for the BOG; doesn’t support fair chase hunting standards; or seems to disregard science when making decisions.
One public commenter identified the issue of appointing Mr. Barrette as one of perpetuating unequal representation on the BOG:
“It's the general underlying philosophy that is already well represented there [on the BOG] that he [Mr. Barrette] brings. He [the individual testifying] asked them [the legislature] to consider what it would be like if the board had representatives from the Sierra Club, Green Peace, Friends of Animals, Defenders of Wildlife, and Earth First, and then the governor has an open seat and appoints someone from PITA. That is precisely what has happened here, although on the other political arm in the spectrum. People on the environmental side would feel ashamed if a governor were to do that and he is stunned that the consumptive use side does not feel "utterly ashamed" at the notion that you cannot have a balanced Board of Game.” -Rick Steiner’s public testimony as presented on page 32 of the April 7, 2010 Senate Resource Committee report
Already worked on the issues above? You can always speak up for wildlife by writing to your local paper, reaching out to your representative, or hosting a wildlife event. Click here to learn how!