Slow winter gives troopers time for fish violators

Posted: Sunday, April 06, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Alaska State Troopers have issued nearly three dozen citations to dipnetters who improperly fished in the Kenai and Kasilof rivers last summer.

During the warm, low-snow winter that kept ice fishermen home and snowmobiles parked, state Fish and Wildlife Protection officers in Soldotna used office time to chase down violators.

Eighteen people, mostly Anchorage residents, were cited for lying to get resident sportfishing licenses. Fifteen also received tickets for dipnetting illegally. Three were cited for having more than one dipnet permit in their household.

Lt. Steve Bear said the number of violators seems high on first blush, but 18,000 permits were issued for the fishery last summer. Troopers combed through about half of them during the winter, he said.

''Anytime you get that many people involved in anything,'' he said, ''you've got people who are going to cheat.''

To fish in any of Alaska's personal use fisheries, a person needs a resident sportfishing license. To qualify, the applicant must have lived in Alaska for the previous 12 consecutive months and must intend to stay, according to state regulations.

''People think that as soon as they move to this state and get a driver's license they should be able to participate in everything,'' Bear said.

''We'll get some people who come up here for three months, head out in the winter and have found it to their benefit to claim Alaska as their residence.''

Others claim a year or two of residency when they've only been here a month, he said.

Finding them isn't hard, Bear said. A drivers license number can be traced to its date of issue, then compared to the residency claim on a sportfishing license.

Troopers have several other methods, but he wouldn't divulge them. ''People adapt pretty quickly,'' he said.

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