A map of the Susitna Flats State Game Refuge — one of the eight state wildlife refuges to add “hunting preserve” to their names under HB 130. (ADF&G image)The Alaska Senate has a passed a bill that adds “hunting preserve” to the names of eight state wildlife refuges. The original version of the bill passed by the House last year, clears up boundary discrepancies for numerous state refuges and critical habitat areas.Listen nowThe refuge name changes were added in a Senate committee Friday at the request of Senator Cathy Giessel, an Anchorage Republican. Giessel told the full Senate Wednesday that it more accurately reflects the refuge’s purpose.”Hunting is available in all of the places we added ‘hunting preserve.’ Mr. President, a lot of people seem to think hunting is a dirty word,” Giessel said. “I would oppose that attitude. As Alaskans, we should take pride in our hunting heritage, our hunting tradition.”The amended bill also replaces the word “protect” with “conserve” in regard to the refuge and habitat areas purpose, terms the Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials say are interchangeable, but Anchorage Democratic Senator Bill Wielechowski questioned.”If it’s not gonna change anything, why are we changing the words. Of course, it’s gonna change something,” Wielechowski said.Wielechowksi referred to a legal opinion provided to legislators that says the wording could sway future refuge management. Wielechowski also expressed concern that the name and purpose wording changes were made in a committee, without opportunity for public comment.”And just in the last couple days since this ha happened, we have gotten letters of opposition,” Wielechowski said. “We have gotten letters and emails and phone calls people who are saying, ‘No. Don’t change this. Give us an opportunity to weigh in on this. We don;t know how this will change things.”The Amended HB 130 passed the Senate 16 to 4. The House will have to consider the changes made to it by the Senate, before the bill can be forwarded to the Governor.