APHA Executive Director Robert Fithian of Alaskan Mountain Safaris told me our criticism of Alaskan guides as a whole was too harsh and unfair, as his organization was at that same time working hard to implement changes, including perhaps the most important development in Alaska in years, namely the creation of the Big Game Commercial Services Board, which now regulates the industry. The Board has already improved licensing requirements and administered disciplinary action against dozens of professionals who have violated licensing and other laws.
A crackdown began with tougher requirements to become a guide-outfitter in Alaska. The barrier to entry was simply too low, APHA Director Jim Hamilton of True North Adventures told me. Other hunting destinations, such as Africa, had better requirements. APHA recognized this and pushed for tougher licensing.
The next approach was enforcement. The hiring of a full-time investigator from the Occupational Licensing Board of Alaska has given the Big Game Commercial Services Board teeth to enforce regulations. More than 30 cases have already been investigated by the Board, mostly for incompetence. A number of operators........(continued)