A proposal to allow for a moose hunt in Anchorage’s Kincaid Park will not move forward after a state legal analysis found the hunt would violate Alaska’s constitution.
In March, the Alaska Board of Game unanimously approved a proposal brought by a Palmer man to allow a limited number of people with physical disabilities to hunt for antlerless moose at Kincaid, a busy 1,400-acre park just south of Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The hunt would have been during a roughly two-week period in October.
But the Board of Game “lacks specific statutory authority” to allow a hunt for a specific group of people, in this case people with physical disabilities, the Alaska Department of Law said in a June 23 letter.
“Our conclusion is that the establishment of a hunt limited to persons with physical disabilities is unconstitutional because it violates the equal access clauses of Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution,” the Department of Law opinion said.
Ira Edwards, the Palmer man who proposed the Kincaid hunt, called the Department of Law decision “disappointing and incorrect” in an e-mail Tuesday. He pointed to youth-only hunts as an example of a situation where the state allows hunting for a specific group.
Edwards also said he has an “antagonistic” relationship with the Department of Law because of a long-running workers’ compensation claim related to the on-the-job accident in which he was injured by a falling tree, leading to lifelong paralysis.
“I find it hard to believe that this recent (Department of Law) letter is not related when there is already a long-standing precedent in statute and regulation for hunts that grant exclusive or special privileges to take fish and wildlife,” Edwards wrote.
The Department of Law analysis doesn’t necessarily mean the proposal is dead, said Rick Green, a spokesman for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
“My understanding is that it’s not that there’s no path forward, but the legislature would have to pass a law before the Board of Game could have the authority,” Green said.
An Anchorage attorney, Michelle Bittner, sued the state over the proposed hunt on similar grounds, saying it would have violated the Alaska Constitution by granting “exclusive or special privileges to hunt and fish for Alaska wildlife to a specific group.”
She said in an email this week that she has dropped the suit because of the state’s decision to halt the proposed hunt.