Alaska Senate approves free trapping licenses for disabled veterans

a man in a yellow tie addresses a room
Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, discusses Senate Bill 10 on Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2023, at the Alaska State Capitol in Juneau. The Senate approved the bill unanimously. (Photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)

The Alaska Legislature is considering a plan to give disabled veterans and members of the Alaska National Guard free trapping licenses in addition to the free hunting and fishing licenses they already receive.

Senate Bill 10, by Sen. Jesse Kiehl, D-Juneau, passed the Senate in a 20-0 vote Wednesday and advanced to the House for consideration.

It’s the first bill passed by either half of the Legislature this year, but Kiehl said that status doesn’t mean much.

“I don’t want to race, I want to get things done,” he said.

Kiehl said he’s never been able to understand why disabled veterans — those who are at least 50% disabled according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs — haven’t been able to freely trap for furs, even though they’re allowed to hunt and sport fish for free.

“It is a way we can show our appreciation to those who have a disability that they acquired in service to our country,” he said of his bill, which was expanded at the request of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to cover active-duty members of the Alaska National Guard.

Though it has yet to be heard in the House, Kiehl’s bill already has supporters; Rep. Mike Cronk, R-Tok, has introduced an identical companion bill.

In a fiscal note submitted to the Legislature, the Department of Fish and Game said it does not expect the bill to have a significant impact. Between 2017 and 2020, the department issued an average of 827 trapping licenses per year, indicating low interest in trapping overall.

By comparison, the state issued more than 90,000 resident sport fishing licenses on average during those three years.

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