ADF&G EMERGENCY ORDER 05-06-14
“All sheep seasons in Game Management Units 23 and 26(A) for all resident and nonresident hunters are closed due to severe decline in sheep numbers in the contiguous populations of the De Long Mountains and Schwatka Mountains. General season hunts by harvest ticket for residents and nonresidents with full-curl bag limits are closed by this action. Resident registration subsistence permit hunts for any sheep (RS388 and RS389) are closed on August 9, 2014 at 11:59 p.m. Due to the low population status, no harvest of sheep is warranted.
Alaska Department of Fish & Game Emergency Order 05-06-14 includes lands within Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve.”
This closure in my opinion is not the area within the Brooks that’s the most affected in decline 26B, 26C would have been the better choices. This was a knee jerk reaction by the National Park Service at the last moment one day before season was opened. If there were more aerial surveys which cost money than the state would have made this decision well before the opener and before hunters went afield a poor example of managing the resource. The winter kill of two years ago not only affected 26A but also 26B, 26C.
With many other closures for sheep hunting within the state in recent years the Brooks Range has received additional hunting pressure that it had not had in the past. In addition there are more and more transporters making a living by doing drop camps at an average drop price of $2500 and there is no limitation how many hunters may be transported so it comes down to the ethics of the pilot and some have no problem dropping hunters on top of hunters. There was a report last year of one transporter who put in 30 plus camps and dropped on top of several other camps. The guides all show up and set their tents NLT than typically 5 August and at average cost of $18k it’s lucrative to them to book as many hunts as they can in a season. A guide which doesn’t even have to be a resident of Alaska is fully qualified to come and help non residents harvest makes no sense to me. To put the icing on the cake go look at sheep harvest you will find more than 50% of the harvest are non residents. If you have money you can go down and buy a sheep tag at your local ADFG write a check and go sheep hunting as with most of the other game in Alaska if you have money you can buy your hunt. Most states that manage give less than 25% of their tags to non residents allowing for residents to be the beneficiary for the majority of the harvest.
I have nearly 10 years hunting the Brooks Range and I will tell you my observation is that the number have been on a steady decline the last 5 years.I feel that the decline is many factors hunting pressure, subsistence hunting,predation,and rough winters all this combined with lack of management leads to a herd that is unstable. I also was told by several reliable resources that the state has not done surveys on the north side in 5 years my guess logistics and cost. We as residents need to make a voice on these important issues so our future generations can enjoy this land we call the “Last Frontier” our sheep are worth more than a $425 non resident locking tag they shouldn’t be sold to the highest bidder. I would like to start a petition that would make much of the Brooks a 1 in 4 years for that matter statewide 1-4 would be a better plan. Limit Non Residents making them draw which would reduce the number of harvest yearly and provide resident hunter’s areas to hunt that guides lock up prior to the season opener.I also would like to know how many residents would be willing to increase their $48 annual hunting fishing license to increase revenue for conservation and by doing so then maybe ADFG would not rely so much Non Resident tags etc.
Where the ones that pay the price $4-5k in heating prices to live in this land, the long winters, I would gladly pay more than $48 for my hunting and fishing license to have better outdoor experiences as many other outdoorsman I have talked too agreed.Just a few ideas I appreciate any and all feedback in this matter hoping to come up with a proposal and other possible solutions to this matter.