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Thread: Allocation allocation allocation

  1. #1
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Allocation allocation allocation

    (preface: this piece below was intended for print elsewhere, but I decided to post it here instead, since it's written for Alaskan hunters.)

    Most of the the controversial issues before us now, such as more draw hunts, more restrictions (like the new Nelchina Tier II "income" criteria), widespread predator control of wolves and bears, Controlled Use Areas, and problems with regulating the transporter and guide industry....all center around allocation concerns.

    The demand for moose and caribou and sheep in various areas has far exceeded the available supply. This conundrum is something biologists, ADFG managers, our Board of Game, and our Advisory Committees must deal with on a continual basis. Demand demand demand! How do we satisfy all these dang hunters?

    Well of course the first thing that comes to mind is to increase the supply of available game animals when possible. In fact, this is mandated by law in certain Intensive Management (IM) areas, and biologists and managers are forced to figure out ways to meet the IM harvest and population objectives. But even though we may be able to increase the supply in some cases (with controlled burns to improve moose forage, or widespread predator control), and thus increase our human share of the overall ungulate and sheep pie, the actual demand still exceeds that supply. And in my view, increasing the supply in an attempt to maximize the opportunity and satisfaction (demand) of a user group like hunters is really not in our overall long-term best interest.

    Our IM population goals call for irruption densities of ungulates. Our IM harvest goals also require irruption densities of hunters to harvest all those animals. And therein lies the real danger; the habitat in many cases can't absorb such huge numbers of hunters and their means of access, and the very nature of the hunt is changed as well. For example, biologists and managers know we have a problem with atv/orv abuse off the Taylor Highway in Unit 20E. Yet the IM population and harvest goals there would increase this user group exponentially, and even if just the median harvest goal for moose and caribou is reached it would take 8,000+ hunters to accomplish such a harvest. That's nearly one-tenth of all licensed hunters in Alaska. Don't get me wrong, not saying atvs/orvs are bad, but that the old saw about "everything in moderation" rings true here too. We already have a problem with too many and too much in that area, yet we are trying to increase it to satisfy the demands of hunters. Maybe hunters on the whole are just demanding too much.

    What's horribly ironic is that hunters are willing to accept habitat damage from overuse, access abuse, and overpopulations of ungulates as an acceptable byproduct of our demand for higher success rates/higher density of prey animals. Hunters also tend to confound and confuse things by well-meaning phrases like, "Look, we all want the same thing, more opportunities to hunt." That is exactly the problem; asking for more opportunities equates to more demand, and more demand often equates to extremes. Heck, demanding more opportunities to hunt often results in controlled-use areas, draw hunts, and more complicated Tier hunts. We aren't putting the overall resource first - the habitat and game - rather, we are often putting ourselves first without consideration to the resource.

    Just as we grow accustomed to more traffic in our cities and burbs, more crowding, so too are we becoming accustomed to more hunters in the field, and even coming to accept such crowding as being "okay" if it means we have a better chance at harvesting an animal. Twenty years ago, the bush pilots I knew would not have landed to drop off hunters if they saw you had a camp set up - nowadays it isn't uncommon for two, three, or more groups to be dropped off in the same exact spot by the same, or different, transporters, or too many guides and transporters working one GUA to come to fisticuffs or worse on some remote airstrip or gravel bar. We've all heard the stories and we all know we have a problem. Too many hunters, not enough game, and some in the industry only out for short-term bucks who don't consider the long-term repercussions to flooding an area with hunters when they can just move onto another area after wiping that one out. And I'm certainly not saying that the majority of transporters and/or guides are bad...but again, everything in moderation.

    Will we ever come to a consensus and choose to limit ourselves or limit our means of access? Will the newly reinstated Big Game Commercial Services Board really crack down on the problems within the transporter and guide industry and start limiting those groups to some extent? Not unless enough of us work together and compromise on just what our priority should be over the long haul as Alaskans and as hunters.

    As hunters, we are supposed to be conservationists and wise stewards of our public lands. It's 2007, the new millennium, and there are few areas left in the world with such public-lands hunting opportunities in wild places that we have right now in Alaska. We are blessed to have this, and it's why many of us choose to live here. Who doesn't value and appreciate the feeling of being out in the wilderness where the noise of the cities is all but absent? Or seeing a monster grizzly track in the mud, or the howling of wolves? For many, this is in large part why we hunt; it is part of the overall Alaska experience and an important facet of every memorable moose or caribou or sheep hunt.

    For many of us, 'combat fishing' is not acceptable - we will not participate in that kind of fishing because it doesn't meet our expectations of what fishing is about. I've been on the Russian River; wondered just how anglers "adapted" to such a thing as that. Yet we are moving more and more toward a 'combat hunting' scenario too in many areas, and I sense this as becoming acceptable among a large segment of hunters. It's a fatalistic "that's just the way it is" attitude, but it doesn't have to be that way.

    We've got it all, still...and unless we recognize just how valuable what we have is, and why we should work to pass this on to future generations, we're screwed...cuz it isn't really the "antis" who are our enemy. The enemy is ourselves and our own greed.

    So I'm asking other hunters to think on all this, and think about putting conservation and stewardship first. Abundance of game is great, and I'm for it, but abundance-based management shouldn't be about "maximum" abundance, neither in the amount of ungulates and sheep nor in the amount of hunters in the field. If we do not achieve some kind of consensus in future on allocation concerns, and on our real role as hunters, we will change the nature of many Alaskan hunts, damage habitat, skew total ecosystem dynamics, and leave our grandkids a far different Alaskan backcountry hunting experience than we have now.

    The first step in overcoming an addiction, as they say, is to admit you have a problem. The first step in any solution to the issues that face us now in the hunting community is to admit we have a problem as well. I don't have the answers. But what I believe to be a sound strategy for the future is moderation across the board. Moderation in wildlife management, moderation in how we access the backcountry, moderation in how many hunters we put in the field if we're a guide or transporter, and moderation that leads to our grandkids having the same hunting opportunities we have now.

  2. #2

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    Wow. I could not disagree more. Moderation leads to mediocrity. Excessive use of all man has to work with is the only way to maximize their lives. Use every tool in their means to achieve what they want to aspire. Going at any issue with moderation and caution that I see in your philosophy will only slow things down and stagnate the process. I see that with a lot of people, not really wanting to change things for the better, just sort of wanting to veer the course a little bit. Sorry Mark, you are way off the mark on this one. There are a lot of hunters wanting to hunt and there is no reason they should not be able to. Man has the knowledge, skill and ability to develop the resources, in a manner that benefits them most. It takes vision to make the changes. The longer we procrastinate, the bigger the problem becomes. Action is needed, not malingering. Might sound a bit radical, but "**** The Torpedoes, Full Speed Ahead" will get us where we are destined.

  3. #3
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    AKres - What is this "process" you're referring to leading towards? I know from your posts that you're a knowledgable hunter, so certainly you recognize the ecological needs of the animals we hunt. We cannot have hunting without habitat, and I think that's the crux of what Mark is getting at. More animals and more hunters without limit can lead to less quality habitat and therefore less animals and opportunities to hunt in the long term. What is the alternative? Using our tools and knowledge to build game farms and ranches? It seems that this is what the ever-increasing use of technology ("excessive use of all that man has to work with") will lead towards game ranching and guaranteed "hunts" for all. What a sad, sad state of affairs that would be. But perhaps this isn't what you're referring to, so...where do you see this ever-increasing "excessive use" of what we have leading us and hunting in general? Maybe your vision is different?

    -Brian

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    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Default Open up some land!

    The state needs to make more land accessible to hunting. We need more trails and roads to disperse (sp) the hunting pressure. I was reading the archives related to the Mulchatna Caribou Herd and a lot of fellas said the same thing; if your gonna hunt the Mulchatna head west, further from Anchorage. Everyone's bunched-up in my opinion. I would love to do a Kotzebue WACH hunt, but just from reading the forum it sounds like road hunting the Mat-Su, except higher success potential-sounds like everyone and their brother is doing this-or hunting the Taylor Highway as it is the nearest registration bou hunt.

    Regarding combat fishing, what about a road to Bristol Bay? That would open up five world class rivers to sportsmen and possibly reduce pressure in south central-at least from the tourists.

    Tim

  5. #5
    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Default Management VS Allocation

    Some people including myself have a vision of excellent "GAME MANAGEMENT" over "ALLOCATION". This requires a no nonsense approach and isn't guided by what's "popular" with the masses or LOUD well finaced minorities.
    If bugs are taken over your crops and your a farmer what do you do?
    This isn't rocket science ........... "KILL THE BUGS" same goes for game "MANAGEMENT".
    When rules are made to bolster the herds and people wine about it, that pisses me off. I live here and would love to have a lifetime for myself and future generations to enjoy what we have today though Excellent game management.

  6. #6
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bear Buster View Post
    When rules are made to bolster the herds and people wine about it, that pisses me off. I live here and would love to have a lifetime for myself and future generations to enjoy what we have today though Excellent game management.
    What you're missing here is that ungulate populations need more than a lack of predators for sustained high populations. They also need healthy habitat, which Alaska still has in great supply. It is not hard, however, to imagine a not-so-distant future where increased use leads to less productive habitat. This has happened in the past (and present) in the lower 48. Why don't we get that? I too want a lifetime of hunting opportunities for myself and my children, but it is not so simple as just killing all the bears and wolves. Healthy habitat is far more important of a factor than predator numbers ever will be. We, as hunters, need to recognize that and work (even including some self-limitations) to ensure healthy wildlife habitats now and in the future. If that means that I need to walk into an area that I used to be able to ride my atv in, or that I'll have to stay home once in a while to decrease pressure on an area, well...so be it.

    -Brian

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    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Default healthy habitat!

    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    What you're missing here is that ungulate populations need more than a lack of predators for sustained high populations. They also need healthy habitat, which Alaska still has in great supply. It is not hard, however, to imagine a not-so-distant future where increased use leads to less productive habitat. This has happened in the past (and present) in the lower 48. Why don't we get that? I too want a lifetime of hunting opportunities for myself and my children, but it is not so simple as just killing all the bears and wolves. Healthy habitat is far more important of a factor than predator numbers ever will be. We, as hunters, need to recognize that and work (even including some self-limitations) to ensure healthy wildlife habitats now and in the future. If that means that I need to walk into an area that I used to be able to ride my atv in, or that I'll have to stay home once in a while to decrease pressure on an area, well...so be it.



    -Brian
    Brian you are RIGHT-ON! And that should fall under "Excellent game management".
    Last edited by Bear Buster; 03-26-2007 at 12:09. Reason: add info

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    I enjoyed your epistle Mark....I speak a parallel theme nearly daily to some of our new folks in the area....their first new hunting purchase is an ATV rather than a pair of boots.....I know of areas containing loads of moose that rarely get hunted simply because an ATV cannot transit same easily.

    .......I understand their hunting itch as I 've been there and still have that itch but this wildlife biology here in Alaska is not an exact science yet and extreme measures may get unintended extreme results.

    We would love to have "controlled burns" here to produce more moose habitat but the Forestry folks really panic over the mention....."control" is difficult.

    Predator control is not as easily done as many think....it's a political hot potato and when we do get a chance the results aren't always that great as in the 40 Mile grizzly hunt.

  9. #9
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by VernAK View Post
    .....I speak a parallel theme nearly daily to some of our new folks in the area....their first new hunting purchase is an ATV rather than a pair of boots.....I know of areas containing loads of moose that rarely get hunted simply because an ATV cannot transit same easily....
    And, obviously, the boats and airplanes can't get in either.

    Just boots...........

    And that's why the moose are still there. Because the boot is connected to the leg bone, the leg bone is connected to the backbone, and the backbone has a limited ability to carry a moose.

    Why don't the boats and planes get the bad-mouth along with the ATVs? After all, some of the first controlled use areas were no-fly zones.

    Those darned, nasty, noisy, dangerous airplanes................

  10. #10
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    And those boots are on an old guy [65].....I've taken moose four of last five years while I can hear highway traffic....while no other hunting groups are in there....I do profess a weakness for taking the yearling bulls as this old back finds them much easier....

    I'm dismayed by the excessive off-road traffic in the 40 Mile Country as well as here in Delta. Hunters will some day face further ORV restrictions....

  11. #11
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    Default Hunting opportunity

    The problem is, what a lot of hunters are asking for is not an increase in hunting opportunity. We have lots of opportunity. There is no lack of it. What they are asking for and even demanding is more killing opportunity. They aren't happy just hunting. They want to be guaranteed success. Many don't want to take the time and effort required to be successful hunters. They want it handed to them on a platter. That's why high fenced guaranteed hunts are becoming so prevalent. And for those of you who don't think the guaranteed hunts affect your kind of hunting, guess again. It gives people unrealistic expectations of what a REAL hunt is. Hey I can buy a guaranteed elk at a game farm. Now I want the State to do whatever is neccesary so I'm guaranteed success on my moose hunt too.

    I've got news for you, there are people who are successful most every year, but it's not because anything was given to them or guaranteed. They took the time to learn to be a hunter. They learned where to go, when to go there, how to hunt, and how to scout. They are willing to go the extra distance neccessary. They do what is neccessary. And I'm not talking buying all the little gadgets that the hunting industry tries to convince you that you have to have to be successful. It's a sign of our times, people want instant gratification. For some they want proof that they are a great hunter and killing something is that proof to them. For some, shooting an animal that can't get away is good enough. For others, they're willing to unnaturally manipulate whole ecosystems to produce so many animals that they are virtually guaranteed success. To you guys, I remind you.....the biggest crashes usually follow the biggest highs in the game population. It's been proven time and again, but some people are slow learners.

  12. #12
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Well Said-

    Mark,

    I agree, and as you know this is a very complicated, multi-faceted issue. I want to mention one aspect that hasn't been touched in this- the "game farm" management concept. In the Lower 48, deer are commonly managed as any other crop. Especiall whitetail deer. It works to a degree because the deer don't move around too much, you can feed them and you can even offer them dietary supplements that help them grow outrageously huge antlers. In my opinion it's completely disgusting, but clearly not everyone feels that way, as there are many ranches down there where this is common practice. But I think we crossed a line on this some time back. I don't know if very many folks even noticed the line as they whizzed past it, but it was there and we crossed it.

    Now we have a lot of immigrants from those same places living here in Alaska, and they've brought that same mentality here to Alaska. There's just one problem. It won't work. The critters we have here move around a lot, making it darn near impossible to feed them. Even when we do it with controlled burns, or by cutting willows and piling them up for the moose to eat. Such efforts will, in my view, cost a lot of money and yield poor results. Moose are not whitetail deer. I don't know how many pounds of willow it takes to make a pound of moose meat, but I'd bet it's a LOT. Call me a pessimist, but it's just not going to work.

    So... how do we tackle this? Do we make more roads, as was suggested, to spread the pressure out? Or do we kill off the predators so more ungulates make it out to the roads where we can pick them off? I don't really like either alternative. Unless the predators are going to reduce ungulate numbers below healthy levels, I think we should mostly leave them alone beyond just regular hunting pressure. We're trying to fight natural cycles here, and it doesn't work. Nature is rarely in balance, and our attempts to level things out usually don't work very well.

    My answer? Leave it alone. We don't need more roads. So what do we do with the increased numbers of hunters? Well, hunters are pretty smart- they find ways into "inaccessible" areas, well, at least the successful ones do.

    I say if (and really "when") hunter numbers get to the tipping point, we regulate THEM! What a concept! To think that we would limit ourselves in the interest of our wildlife populations! Like it or not, I believe that's where we are headed.

    I'm about to release a book that will subject me to accusations of putting too many folks on the river, and I will be blamed for increasing the pressure on Alaska's game. So be it. It's happening anyway. I beleive at least one answer to this is in better regulations, and good enforcement of those regulations.

    Okay, fire away! I know my argument has holes in it, and I'm not stating my case well, but that's my stab in the general direction. Be nice to me as I've only had five hours of sleep here.

    Hopefully this makes sense!

    -Mike
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  13. #13
    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Default hunters are regulated

    That's what draws and permits are, regulating hunters! You almost have to be a lawyer to understand some of the regulations put on us, but I can deal with that if it's necessary not to wipe-out a specific animal or fish or whatever. We spend millions of dollars every year in this state making sure the ecosystem is healthy and balanced, if we just let it alone with no interference it would be like it was when buffalos were getting wiped out.
    The greed..........well you can see where that would go.

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Default

    I like what I am reading although I disagree with the no development part. I believe we should start a road somewhere around Nenana, turn left and go to Nome, then somewhere on the route, turn left again and build a road to Bristol Bay.

    Game is to be managed for the people of Alaska, not tourist and certainly not for the outsiders such as the environmentalist Waco Terrorist! It time we send these idiots back to California!

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    Member AKBassking's Avatar
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    Oh, and I think we should close the Fish and Game proposal to outsiders and only allow Alaska residence submit proposals!

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  16. #16
    Member Bear Buster's Avatar
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    Default Agree

    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Oh, and I think we should close the Fish and Game proposal to outsiders and only allow Alaska residence submit proposals!
    AMEN TO THAT! I also think if you want to be an Alaskan GUIDE you need to live in Alaska!
    Last edited by Bear Buster; 03-26-2007 at 23:17. Reason: more info

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    AKres - What is this "process" you're referring to leading towards? I know from your posts that you're a knowledgable hunter, so certainly you recognize the ecological needs of the animals we hunt. We cannot have hunting without habitat, and I think that's the crux of what Mark is getting at. More animals and more hunters without limit can lead to less quality habitat and therefore less animals and opportunities to hunt in the long term. What is the alternative? Using our tools and knowledge to build game farms and ranches? It seems that this is what the ever-increasing use of technology ("excessive use of all that man has to work with") will lead towards game ranching and guaranteed "hunts" for all. What a sad, sad state of affairs that would be. But perhaps this isn't what you're referring to, so...where do you see this ever-increasing "excessive use" of what we have leading us and hunting in general? Maybe your vision is different?

    -Brian
    For starters, the bulk of the best habitat has been locked up into Parks, both State and National. It was selected with that very reason in mind. Most of the headwaters of the large drainages are locked up. That leaves the state to do the best they can with what remains. Trails into the wilderness, or roads leading to far distant land, does NOT destroy the habitat. That nonsense is what some want you to believe. They have their own reasons, obvious to most.
    There is so much room for improvement, that it is impossible to give them a fair airing here. E.G. controlled burns, improved access to disperse human population, scheduling trains and trucks at times when moose are bedded, as opposed to when they are up moving; effective predator control measures, limiting guides big time, improving data collection, exchange and analyzing it, and then base decisions on game management, rather than emotions. To think by using the land, we are destroying it, well...I just don't buy it. To some a trail is a scar on Mother Natures Face, to others it is just a line of maturity. This ole Earth has overburden herself many times. In just the time I have hunted up here, I have witnessed the treeline advance upward of over 800 feet. Now what happened to the trail I put in there? And yes the tundra will take over again, many, many times after each of us are long gone. PS Some of the very best sheep range in the Brooks is guess where??? Where ripped up the soil, cultivated it and then reseeded it along side the Pipeline. Go figure.

  18. #18
    Mark
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Oh, and I think we should close the Fish and Game proposal to outsiders and only allow Alaska residence submit proposals!
    Now that's a darned good point.

  19. #19
    Member ak_powder_monkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKBassking View Post
    Oh, and I think we should close the Fish and Game proposal to outsiders and only allow Alaska residence submit proposals!

    but then there would be no way to base management decisions on science
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

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    Default someday

    I think someday, what will have to happen is you'll only be able to get a hunting license every other year or every 2 years or whatever, unless you live in the bush or own private land. I'd be willing to go a year without hunting thereby limiting the number of hunters out there by 50% when I get to go. Sounds like that's where we're headed to me anyway.

    bearclaw46

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