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Thread: Tok/Delta Sheep numbers down due to Golden Eagles?

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    Default Tok/Delta Sheep numbers down due to Golden Eagles?

    My son drew the non-motorized Delta controlled use sheep permit for this year and after talking to numerous other hunters that have hunted that area and Tok in the last couple years I am hearing many people say the numbers are down due to the rise in the Golden Eagle numbers. Any truth to this that anyone knows of? I helped a friend hunt his TMA tag for sheep a couple years back and we saw alot of Goldens then and found four kill sites up high that did not appear to be human as they were dead before the start of the season but not that old. We didn't see any wolf tracks around them either. Any thoughts?

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    Member CGSwimmer25's Avatar
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    I hunted the walk in Delta tag last year and saw plenty of sheep, just gotta put in the miles to find them. Good luck

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    It is true that golden eagle's are taking young sheep. It is true that sheep numbers are down in the TMA. Down a lot comparing to the later 70's and 80's. Thus the reduction in the # of tags.

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've spent a fair amount of time in DCUA over the last few months looking at sheep. Seen plenty of them, no eagles either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CGSwimmer25 View Post
    I hunted the walk in Delta tag last year and saw plenty of sheep, just gotta put in the miles to find them. Good luck
    Thanks for the info. Lots of miles I can handle, no sheep I can not. Thanks again.

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    The Eagles only take sheep lambs and goat kids in the first weeks after birth, and mostly by knocking them off a precipices. Lynx can kill adult sheep but rarely does this occur, but the biggest harvester is deep and protracted snow and ice cover, the ice is a large impediment to food. And of course wolves.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Eagles tend to be the number one predator for the first month of life according to the studies I have read involving the AK range. Coyotes (a fairly new arrival to the area) take them throughout the first year and have been pretty consistently shown to kill the number one sheep predator.

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    Member roughneck6883's Avatar
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    There was footage of a bald eagle that was flying holding pieces of a fawn in wyoming or montana so a golden eagle taking a few lambs isnt a crazy notion..........but I havent been there in that area and just hearing about it I wouldnt think it would effect the population more than other larger predators, weather or disease, and even if the impact was more than what I think I dont think it would effect the population of mature rams THIS YEAR ....tell your son good luck and I hope he has a great hunt
    "Horns make pi$* poor soup"

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    Well, the sheep biologist who is studying sheep in the Chugach lost two of the lambs he was monitoring to goldens so it definitely happens. But whats behind the decrease in trophy animals definitely needs to be investigated. Seems like an intensive aerial survey would help. Why the heck dont they just auction a governors tag to do some dang research. But I can vouch for the DCUA. Plenty of sheep there to have a fine hunt and like anything weather, competition and plain old luck will have plenty to do with it!!!!!
    I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. Fred Bear

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Studies have show that golden eagles are a significant predator of sheep. Proven fact. In some casses 50+ percent of a study group have been killed by eagles so it is not a "few" lambs. Now each area is different I am sure but to sweep aside predation as a limiting factor to lamb recruitment is to ignore the supporting science.

    As far as today's legal rams... well to get a handle on that you need to know what happened 8-10 years ago! so a review of 2001-2003 would be handy. Was the Delta/Tok area in a high hare cycle? Where in the cycle were they? How was the weather? Was there late season snow? Was there a bad freeze thaw cycle that may have crusted over the wind blown slopes that the sheep winter on?

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    Not guessing on the predator issue. As to sheep numbers, I was in there in 2009 and saw many many many 3/4-7/8 curl rams that would likely be turning legal this year. Also didn't see another soul, so just be prepared to go far and you'll find what you are looking for.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    In terms of the permit you have drawn for the upcoming season does it really matter if sheep numbers are down? You have the pemit so go hunting and see what you can come up with. For as long as I've been hunting in Alaska I've been hearing that it's not as good as it used to be, so you better go now before it gets any worse.

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    So when did the bounty end on eagles.........?

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    I make no claim to being an expert on this matter but I offer these firsthand observations; everytime I have been sheep hunting, mid-august and early september, I witnessed attempts by golden eagles to take sheep lambs, they are fairly sizeable animals by then. Eagles may be more successful and more inclined to to prey on lambs in their first month of age but they certainly do not stop trying beyond that age.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AGL4now View Post
    So when did the bounty end on eagles.........?
    Here's a little Alaska eagle history.

    Old ignorance dies hard....
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    Member LungShot's Avatar
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    In the search box on You Tube you can type 'eagle sheep' or 'eagle goat' or 'eagle killing sheep' or something like that, I cant remember. Anyway there is video of eagles from some other country, cant remember that either, they are knocking goats of the cliffs and then feeding on them after they die from the impact. They swoop down sink their talons into them and pull them just enough that they fall. They were doing this to full grown adults. Granted these goats were probably in the 120lbs range but you can bet that the largest eagle in North America (the golden eagle) is certainly doing a similar thing to probably every age/size sheep minus the fully grown adults. I would imagine it is a staple in their diet in some parts of the state. However I would hesitate blaming eagles for the decline in numbers. I dont think there has been any signifigant increase in their numbers (i could be wrong) and they have been doing this for hundreds of years before man ever started hunting sheep. Now wolves who HAVE had an increase in numbers or maybe a few icy winters back to back would probably be more to blame. Thats my opinion anyway.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    The biggest non natural impact we have to sheep is the fact that we lead coyotes into this country which added a new and prolific predator into the system. Number two is that we have likely brought diseases or at least will eventually bring them. Sadly I would bet that the latter will one day make the coyote issue pale in comparison.

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