A bill rewarding sea otter hunters was praised and panned at its first hearing on Wednesday.
The measure proposes paying $100 per otter. Only Alaska Natives can legally harvest the protected marine mammals. And federal rules limit processing and sales.
The sponsor is Bert Stedman, a Sitka Republican whose district includes Southeast’s outer coast. He wore an otter pelt on his shoulders as he came before the Senate Resources Committee, saying a bounty would slow rapid population growth.
Craig Mayor Dennis Watson, a former commercial diver, says he’s watched as otters moved in — and his catch disappeared.