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1/7/2019
Assembly set to talk traps

By ZACHARY HALASCHAK
Daily News Staff Writer

A resolution requesting a setback for traps along public trails and roads is on the docket for Monday’s Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting.

The proposed resolution, which was submitted by Assembly Member Judith McQuerry, requests that the Alaska Board of Game issue an emergency order to limit fur traps to no closer than 150 feet from all public roads and hiking trails in the Ketchikan area.

The resolution also requests that signage be placed adjacent to trails in order to inform the public about potential traps.

There was previously an emergency order in place at the federal level, issued by the U.S. Forest Service in 2014. That order had similar language to the request on the Assembly’s agenda and limited trapping to 150 feet from trails and campgrounds on Revillagigedo Island.

The Forest Service’s emergency order was rescinded in November.

In a press release around that time, Tongass National Forest Supervisor Earl Stewart wrote that the order, which lasted about four years, was intended to be temporary. In it he also noted that trapping restrictions are not supposed to be regulated by the federal government, but rather by the State of Alaska.

“This emergency closure was intended to be temporary, as the Forest Service does not manage fish, wildlife harvest or trapping regulations,” the release reads. “Trapping activity in Alaska is regulated by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.”

When the Forest Service order was lifted in November, trappers were legally enabled to place traps closer to hiking trails where dogs and children often play, thus prompting McQuerry’s request for a new state-level emergency order.

“The State of Alaska regulates fur trapping in the Ketchikan area, encouraging trappers and people to ‘share the trails,’ warning people that traps may be close by where they are hiking and walking their pets,” McQuerry’s sponsor statement reads. “However, the ‘sharing of trails’ may have fatal consequences to hikers, children and pets.”

The reason that her resolution is requesting an “emergency order” is that the Board of Game only meets every two years to review and pass proposed regulations, and last May’s deadline for submitting new regulations to consider at its January meeting has already elapsed.

In the proposed resolution itself a sense of urgency was conveyed, noting that having traps near hiking trails and public areas “may have fatal consequences to children, pets and hikers.

“Numerous close calls have occurred in the Ketchikan region,” it adds.

Also on Monday’s agenda, the Assembly is set to hear two different presentations.

The first presentation is from the Mike Abbott, CEO of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. Abbott will be providing a status update on the 2018 land trade with the U.S. Forest Service.

The second will be a presentation from a representative of the U.S. Census Bureau on the upcoming 2020 census.

“The objective is to educate people about the 2020 Census, encourage community partners to motivate people to self-respond and engage grassroots organizations to reach out to hard count groups,” the agenda item reads.

The census is conducted throughout the country every 10 years and provides information on a number of factors including population and demographics.

The Assembly will also vote to award a $50,000 contract to Gallagher Benefit Services to conduct a classification and compensation study for the borough. The borough’s 2018-2023 strategic plan calls for a compensation study to be done in 2020. In July the Assembly endorsed staff plans to accelerate that study.

Also Monday, the Assembly is expected to:

• Hear a report from the Ketchikan School District.

• Hold a final public hearing on a matter regarding rezoning in the Shoup Street area.

• Renew a sublease for Ketchikan International Airport’s bar and snack lounge.

• Hear reports from the borough manager and borough mayor.

Monday’s meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly chambers, 1900 First Ave. There will be time for public comment at the beginning of the meeting.