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Alaska Appointment Derailed by Montana Infraction

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June 14, 2015

by Paul Vang
Writing Outdoors

A Montana hunting and fishing license infraction has derailed the appointment of a Butte High School graduate to a powerful board of the Alaska Fish & Game Department.

The Alaska Board of Fisheries is a 7-member board that regulates Alaska’s fisheries, a board that’s supposed to maintain a balance of allocating Alaska’s rich fisheries resources among commercial, subsistence, sport and personal use interests.

While the membership of the Board is made up from people representing these different interests, it also gets political. The current kerfuffle started when Alaska’s Republican governor, Bill Walker, announced he wouldn’t reappoint the Board’s chairman, Karl Johnstone, a Democrat. Instead, the governor announced plans to replace Johnstone with Roland Maw, a person who has had a history of disagreements with the Department of Fish and Game staff and fisheries board members.

 

Roland Maw, according to an online résumé, is a Butte High School graduate, with degrees from Weber State University, Brigham Young University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Alberta. He was a professor of environmental science at Lethbridge College for 25 years. He has also been a commercial fisherman, sport fishing operator, and was executive director of the United Cook Inlet Drift Association, a commercial fishing group. Mr. Maw and his wife also have a home in Dillon, Montana as well as the Kenai Peninsula.

Maw’s prospective nomination drew criticism from sport anglers, including Ricky Gease, Executive Director of the Kenai River Sportfishing Association, who, without naming names, said the governor’s intended candidate for the fisheries board would overload the board with commercial fishing interests.

While Maw had the governor’s support, in February he unexpectedly withdrew his name for consideration for appointment to the Board, amid reports that Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks was investigating Maw’s residency status.

Maw had purchased Alaska resident fishing and hunting licenses from 1996 to 2003, and then qualified for a Permanent Identification Card, which is available to senior residents; essentially a lifetime fishing and hunting license. The card is void if the holder receives benefits from any other state, including resident licenses. Beginning in 2002 Maw also applied for annual payouts from Alaska’s Permanent Fund Dividend, a fund that passes along oil tax revenues to state residents, and received over $16,000 from that fund.

Montana’s investigation led to charges that Maw made false statements to obtain resident hunting licenses.

Montana game warden Chad Murphy confirmed by phone that in May, per a plea agreement, Roland Maw pleaded nolo contendre (no contest) in a Beaverhead County Justice Court to seven counts of illegally obtaining resident hunting and fishing licenses in Montana for years 2008 to 2014. Maw was assessed fines of $1,000 for each count, and with court costs, a total of $7,245, plus loss of hunting and fishing privileges for 18 months.

In an earlier, but related case, Robert Maw, Carson City, Nevada, a son of Roland, forfeited a $3,105 bond for two counts of unlawful possession of wildlife, an antlered mule deer in 2013 and 2014, and a 2012 count of hunting without a license and killing a deer. The penalties were calculated at $500 for the basic charge, $500 for restitution to the State of Montana for the deer, and court costs of $35 on each charge. Warden Murphy said Robert essentially went deer hunting with Roland’s license. The charges also include a 24-month suspension of hunting and fishing privileges.

The loss of hunting and fishing privileges includes Montana and other states, including Alaska, that honor suspensions issued in other states.

Incidentally, Roland Maw isn’t the only casualty of the failed appointment. Craig Medred, an outdoor writer and editor with the Alaska Dispatch News of Anchorage, first broke the story though learned that offending Alaska’s governor may be career ending. He is currently on leave from the publication.

He also comments, “Roland should actually be facing far more trouble in Alaska for residency issues than he faced in Montana, but as of the moment nothing has happened here because he’s a friend of the governor.”

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