Bill backed by Southeast communities would tighten hunting and fishing license residency requirements

committee hearing testimony
Rep. Rebecca Himschoot, I-Sitka, right, sits before the House Resources Committee alongside Alaska Department of Fish and Game Commissioner Doug Vincent-Lang, second from right, on Jan. 24, 2024. (Eric Stone/Alaska Public Media)

Lawmakers are considering a measure that would tighten residency requirements for Alaska hunting and fishing licenses. Backers of the measure say it would close a loophole that makes it difficult for state wildlife troopers to prosecute nonresidents who obtain the cheaper resident licenses.

Currently, to obtain a resident license, an applicant has to live in Alaska for at least 12 consecutive months. They then remain a resident as long as they maintain a home in the state, intend to return and don’t claim residency elsewhere. Rep. Rebecca Himschoot, I-Sitka, pitched the proposal to the House Resources Committee on Wednesday.

“They could come for as short as a few weeks. They could keep a boat on a trailer somewhere in the state, use that boat to live on for a few weeks, and hunt and fish as much as they would like as residents,” Himschoot said.

The deputy director of Alaska Wildlife Troopers, Maj. Aaron Frenzel, told the committee that the current residency requirements make it difficult to prosecute people suspected of illegally obtaining resident licenses.

The bill, House Bill 201, sponsored by Himschoot and Rep. Sara Hannan, D-Juneau, would restrict resident licenses to people who are eligible for a Permanent Fund dividend. To qualify, you have to spend at least six months in the state every year, subject to exceptions for military service, college students, and so on.

Himschoot said the idea for the bill came from constituents on Prince of Wales Island. Several local fish and game advisory committees and local governments in Southeast Alaska submitted letters of support.

Rep. Kevin McCabe, R-Big Lake, said he was concerned the bill could exclude some Alaskans who leave the state for more than six months a year.

“I intend to remain an Alaska resident till I die,” McCabe said. “However, I also intend to get a motorhome, maybe after I fully retire, drive around the Lower 48 and see some things for the wintertime so I don’t have to shovel piles of snow. And I would likely be out of state for more than 180 days. This would seem to exclude me from my home state, the state where I intend to remain, from fishing and hunting and that sort of stuff.”

Himschoot replied that the bill is meant to protect fish and wildlife for people who rely on them.

“The resources needed by the people who are living here year round have a very high value, and the cost of living here is very high,” she said. “If somebody is choosing to live and work out of state, that’s a choice they’re making.”

During public testimony on Friday, the vast majority of commenters – including a large number of Prince of Wales Island residents – asked lawmakers to pass the bill. 

The bill remains pending in the House Resources Committee. A similar bill has yet to receive a hearing in the Alaska Senate.

Eric Stone covers state government, tracking the Alaska Legislature, state policy and its impact on all Alaskans. Reach him at

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