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Thread: Solving the Sheep Problem

  1. #1

    Default Solving the Sheep Problem

    Here's my take on how to solve the current sheep issue in Alaska:

    1. Limit guides to 2 hunters in the field at a time
    (not per assistant guide but for the Registered/Master guide with no exceptions) British Columbia has this rule with their guides and it seems to make a whole lot of sense to me. This would help eliminate overcrowding and also to ensure that non-resident sheep hunters are paired with proficient and knowledgeable guides.

    2. Make Non-Residents drawing only for Sheep
    Limit non-residents to drawing tags only for dall sheep with an allocation of 20% available harvest. Currently the five year average is that non-residents take ~44.5% of the sheep harvested in Alaska with OTC tags (around 270 animals for 411 hunters). Cutting this number down to 20% seems to be very reasonable considering most states only allow around 10% allocation of tags for non-residents. This would mean allowing only about 120 animals to be killed each year by non-residents. A reduction in the total amount of Non-resident hunters by about 56% or 228 hunters. Therefore this would allow about 183 Non resident Dall sheep hunters each year to hunt in current OTC Sheep Tag areas.

    3. Raise Non-Resident Dall Sheep tag prices
    To help offset the loss of revenue sales from the reduction in the amount of non-resident license/tags sold, it would be necessary to increase our non-resident sheep tag prices. Currently in my opinion we charge way less than we should for a non resident sheep tag. The State of Alaska only charges non-residents $510.00 ($85.00 License+ $425.00 Tag) to hunt sheep in Alaska. The State of Montana for example charges $65.00 more ($575.00) just to hunt deer in their state. The fact that we charge hunters less for a Dall sheep is simply inexcusable.

    This is a breakdown on how much British Colombia charges sheep hunters and would more accurately reflect what a Dall Sheep tag should cost in Alaska.

    Sheep Tag $620.00 CDN
    Hunting License Non-Resident $ 75.00 CDN
    non-resident Preservation Fund $150.00 CDN
    Government Royalty Harvest Fee (only if successful) $250.00 CDN

    Total for a successful Sheep Hunting In B.C. $1095.00 CDN

    Adjusted to U.S. dollars at (.91) ~$996.00 U.S.
    For a non-resident Canadian

    Therefore, if we were to raise our non-resident sheep tag price to ~$800.00 it would not be unwarranted and our prices would still remain competitive with the amount others are charging for Dall Sheep tags.

    4. Raise Resident Dall Sheep tag Prices
    Currently Alaska charges $0.00 for a Resident Dall Sheep tag. In order to help offset the lost revenue in license sales (from reducing the amount of non-resident hunters) it would be necessary to start charging residents for Dall Sheep Tags. Since B.C. currently charges $60.00 for a resident sheep tag it seems as though this would be a sufficient price to start charging for a Dall Sheep tag here.

    Now, lets look at some past harvest statistics from all the General Harvest Tag areas in Alaska. Looking at the past 5 years (2009-2013) we can see that the average hunters (rounded not including unspecified hunters) are as follows;
    Total Non-Resident Hunters/year: 411
    Total Resident Hunters/year: 1,543

    Now to figure out the total revenue generated by non-resident sheep hunting license sales we times the $510.00 license/tag fee with the amount of non-resident sheep hunters. This gives us the following:
    510.00*411= $209,610.00
    Thus, we find that Non-Resident sheep hunting over the last 5 years has raised an average of $209,610.00 per year.

    Note: this figure is slightly under calculated since the number of non-resident alien hunters was unknown and Fish and Game charges Non-Resident Aliens more in license fees then it does for just non-residents ($550.00 for a sheep tag and $300.00 for a License).

    So, if we raised the nonresident sheep tag fee to $885.00 and reduced the amount of hunters to 183. We end up with a figure of around $161,995.00
    $885.00*183= 161,995.00
    This is a reduction in license/tag sales of about $47,615.00
    However, by increasing the resident Tag cost to $60.00 it would add an additional $92,580.00 in license/tag.

    Therefore, if the above changes were made, the Alaska Dept. of fish and game would actually increase it's revenue by around $44,965.00.

    Obviously these numbers are not exact, and there are more variables that come into play than just those mentioned above. However, what this does show is that if we raise or license rates to a reasonable amount we can reduce the amount of non-resident sheep hunters without negatively impacting the amount of revenue that ADF&G generates from sheep hunting.

  2. #2
    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    What is the problem we are trying to solve? (too many hunters, funding for adfg, too many sheep harvested) whats the deliverable or end state we are trying to achieve? (larger adult population, more sheep on the mountain, fish and game can conduct more studies) Whats the measureable you can use to measure success? once thats defined can you build paths or continue the conversation... look forward to the discussion, regards
    NRA life Member JVJ

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    What is the necessity for the any of the financial aspect on sheep management? Do you think the difference a couple hundred thousands dollars is going to change things?
    I'm not sure fee increases would dissuade individuals from procuring a tag and license.
    How about ADF&G allowing some predator control with airplanes?

  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by northwoods View Post
    I'm not sure fee increases would dissuade individuals from procuring a tag and license.
    Maybe not, but at least then F&G wouldn't be giving away the sheep for free!

  5. #5

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    Simply put, sheep or full curl rams rather are a finite (yet renewable) resource. There are only so many legal sheep which can be harvested in a given year and competition has gotten fierce for harvesting those rams. The fact is that there are only a few areas to hunt sheep, this coupled with the fact that many of those areas are draw only or experiencing a low abundance concentrates the hunters into a few select areas. This creates the current situation we are in with overcrowding of hunters. In addition it seems as though some guides have little respect for the resource and are simply harvesting as many sheep as they can without thinking of the implications this causes to the resource. Most notably it produces less full curl rams and smaller/younger on average legal rams available for harvest. This also makes hunting more difficult for resident hunters who don't have the resources to be as successful as guides are (Horses, Cubs, Time etc.)
    Since residents have priority to the resource it seems as though the most sensible (and legal) thing to do is reduce the amount of sheep that non-residents can harvest. It's in our state constitution and goes along with how every other state has managed hunting of trophy big game species.
    The financial aspect comes from an argument that non-resident tag/license revenue is critical and must be replaced if non-resident harvest were reduced. I just pointed out the easy fix to that argument which should not negatively impact the funding ADF&G currently receives.

    Furthermore, I am all for aerial predator control to enhance game populations (where justified). However, with the current sheep situation I feel that alone will not even come close to solving our current problem.

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    I would like to be involved with any aerial predator control of golden eagles if that becomes available.

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    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LGraham View Post
    Simply put, sheep or full curl rams rather are a finite (yet renewable) resource. There are only so many legal sheep which can be harvested in a given year and competition has gotten fierce for harvesting those rams. The fact is that there are only a few areas to hunt sheep, this coupled with the fact that many of those areas are draw only or experiencing a low abundance concentrates the hunters into a few select areas. This creates the current situation we are in with overcrowding of hunters. In addition it seems as though some guides have little respect for the resource and are simply harvesting as many sheep as they can without thinking of the implications this causes to the resource. Most notably it produces less full curl rams and smaller/younger on average legal rams available for harvest. This also makes hunting more difficult for resident hunters who don't have the resources to be as successful as guides are (Horses, Cubs, Time etc.)
    Since residents have priority to the resource it seems as though the most sensible (and legal) thing to do is reduce the amount of sheep that non-residents can harvest. It's in our state constitution and goes along with how every other state has managed hunting of trophy big game species.
    The financial aspect comes from an argument that non-resident tag/license revenue is critical and must be replaced if non-resident harvest were reduced. I just pointed out the easy fix to that argument which should not negatively impact the funding ADF&G currently receives.

    Furthermore, I am all for aerial predator control to enhance game populations (where justified). However, with the current sheep situation I feel that alone will not even come close to solving our current problem.
    I pretty much concur with both your recommendations and the cause and need for them. The only thing I will add is that the weather the last few years has only made the situation worse.

    I highly encourage all to get involved in the upcoming BOG meeting,, there will be changes to sheep hunting, of that I'm almost sure.

    For those that don't know,, all proposals have a cost to the state statement, and the cost of changing rules needs to be address in the proposal.
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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    Personally I disagree with the notion of AK residents paying for ANY big game tag. These animals are a resource which belong to us, as residents of AK.

    I do think Non res should pay more for sheep tags... a lot more than they are right now. It won't stop most of them from going on a $20K, anyway. The only real way to limit non res hunters is to limit the number of sheep hunters guides can book and have non res draw only.

    In my opinon, sheep are a unique species in the list of AK big game animals in that they are solely a trophy animal - no matter if you are an AK resident or non resident. 99% of the time they are hunted for their horns, first and foremost...and then meat...as such, they ought to be managed as a trophy valued animal.
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  9. #9
    Member Erik in AK's Avatar
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    I agree with akprideinvegas' larger point that any change must first have a defined goal. To that end, raising revenue must also have an end. I happen to agree with the idea of replacing harvest tickets with tags for residents. The defined end for that additional revenue being the funding of sheep population surveys. Currently, most sheep habitat is not surveyed and the estimates that drive allocation politics are by and large, guesses.

    Sheep are far too valuable to manage by guesses.

    As to the OP's ideas? From my POV the issue isn't guides so much as resident opportunity taking a back seat to the guides lobby, the bulk of whom are non-residents (and yes, I have a problem with that).

    Mature rams are highly targeted and vulnerable to overharvest. This is compounded by the geographic mix of harvest ticket and draw hunts, AND the way guides are managed. As written, all the various regulations allow hunting pressure to migrate and therefore concentrate on areas known to hold rams until they no longer do at which point another GMU sub-unit goes to the draw in the name of protecting the herd. For instance, the eastern Brooks is mostly in GMU 26C or 25A. As we have learned, the hunting in the Brooks was poor due to low sheep numbers. We also learned that some nice rams came out of GMU 19 in the AK Range which means 19 is probably going to get slammed next year. If the sheep are concentrated in one corner of that GMU there is nothing stopping any and all sources of hunting pressure from overharvesting that unit.

    What we need are:

    1) Smaller sheep management units (SMUs): Possibly on a drainage by drainage basis, with accordingly smaller harvest quotas for individual SMUs broken down by resident and non-resident. Manage these seasons as Registration hunts--once the harvest quota is met that portion of the hunt is closed by EO. My vision of the map is something along the lines of how Kodiak bear tags are parsed out -- 1-2 NR and 4-5 resident.

    2) Rolling closures: Close some SMUs every year for a few years to create refuge spaces interspersed with open units where rams can escape to and get big

    3) Establish a resident only window that opens before guided non-residents. My initial impulse is to open the NR season Aug 15th.

    If established, this could revert many draw hunt areas back to OTC.

    I don't have a number but this would be more expensive to administer and residents need to pony up. I would pay $100 for a resident sheep tag. Many wouldn't, but good management costs money and, as the old saying goes "You get what you pay for". Currently, we don't pay much.
    If cave men had been trophy hunters the Wooly Mammoth would be alive today

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    Member tyrex13's Avatar
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    If the same folks that supported Prop 1 were in charge of non res sheep tag prices, they would be about $15k a pop. Maybe $5k is a good deal.

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    Well I see the annual anti-nonresident sheep rant has started. I'll have to get a fresh bag of popcorn ready to go. Hey JuliW, what percent of non-resident taxidermy jobs do you get? Just saying...............
    Ok, let 'er rip!

  12. #12
    Moderator stid2677's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by knikglacier View Post
    Well I see the annual anti-nonresident sheep rant has started. I'll have to get a fresh bag of popcorn ready to go. Hey JuliW, what percent of non-resident taxidermy jobs do you get? Just saying...............
    Ok, let 'er rip!
    I don't see any non res bashing here,, not hard to see that non residents are starting to get screwed over too. I just got done reading my 3rd story this season about unhappy non resident sheep hunters.

    I'm not in any way anti non resident,, I'm anti irresponsible Guide/Outfitters. Their are many that I respect highly and some that I think are the worst kind.
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  13. #13

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    I'm not in any way bashing non-resident hunters. It just seems to me that there are not enough sheep to go around like there used to be. Since current harvest is unsustainable the first ones to be cut should be non-residents. That's the legal way to do things. Just look at what happened to charter/guided halibut fishing. When the abundance is such that harvest needs to be lowered guides are the first ones to be cut. That's why resident DIY fishermen still have a 2 fish any size halibut limit and guided fishermen can keep one fish any size and one under 28". Residents should come first if the resource is limited.

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    Member JuliW's Avatar
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    I can't speak for other taxis... A very small percentage of my business income is derived from non residents leaving trophies to be mounted.
    I do also want to add mtn goat to the list of animals not necessarily taken for meat. (Antlered/horned/hooved).
    Taxidermy IS art!
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    Member Anythingalaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JuliW View Post
    I do also want to add mtn goat to the list of animals not necessarily taken for meat. (Antlered/horned/hooved).
    Which is such a disgrace. Trophy hunters who don't harvest at least partially for meat are despicable. Disrespectful to such an amazing animal IMHO.

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    Well my mistake I guess. But I'll tell you this, money is not going to stop many who somehow want to get up there and hunt sheep. Its the availability of tags, whether OTC, non-resident draw or a GMU quota system. At $40K a crack at a Stones, the Canadian guides usually have a multi-year waiting list. Why? People are willing to sacrifice for the opportunity. The non-resident fees are a significant revenue source for the F&G. There is a "little disparity" between a non-resident paying $510 for a chance at a sheep and the resident paying $0 for their harvest tag. Not to mention other expenses that help the economy too.

    Every year a thread like this starts off and every year the BOG "listens" to you but does what they want to do. Either they have biological data that you aren't privy to or just letting the residents "vent" because it makes them feel good. It happens here too - 3,000 miles away.

    But hey, I'm not anti-resident, you are entitled to your "fair share" of sheep. I'll be monitoring this pro non-resident topic and comment on occasion if allowed to. But I will tell you now again, money is not the "solution" you are looking for.

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    Residents $100 (actually $200 would be better)
    Non Res $1000

    Charge a little for tags and then we'll get good numbers to manage with as well. There are so many people who just get tags and don't hunt the sheep. That number is still factored in the "success rate".

    Its hard to charge for anything in Alaska. Everyone seems to want everything for free: "our sheep" "our oil" "our fair share" Its embarrassing. Yeah, we might actually have to pay for something one day.

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    Member mit's Avatar
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    What if....... We Killed them all and used the poisoned meat to kill all the predators?
    Tim

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    I don't think anyone is saying that money is the solution or that raising the out of state fees will discourage hunters from coming up. The way I read this, the issue is giving NonRes hunters the opportunity to hunt all the OTC tags is starting to severly limit the opportunities of Resident hunters. Guides are generally very good at what they do (or else they would be out of business) and given that they are out in the field a lot more than 95% of resident hunters they have a very good idea where the legal sheep are and how to best access them. Hence they are very proficient at getting the few sheep that are available, sometimes even rotating a few clients into the same area until its depleted of legal rams. All the while leaving camps set-up and occupied, thereby discouraging any other hunters from hunting the area. You could make vurtually this same argument about Kenai Kings. By limiting Non-Res to draw tags only, you have a much easier time managing the harvest numbers, you can allow over pressured areas to cool off for a few years, you put an exact number on how many NonRes hunters are in the field etc.. However in order to make this palatable to the Board and any politicians involved you need to replace the revenue lost by having fewer NonRes hunters. The obvious solution is to raise the price of a NonRes tag. Someone paying 15-20K for a hunt isn't going to change their plans because the tag now costs $500 more than previous years.

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    Quote Originally Posted by akstormin View Post
    I don't think anyone is saying that money is the solution or that raising the out of state fees will discourage hunters from coming up. The way I read this, the issue is giving NonRes hunters the opportunity to hunt all the OTC tags is starting to severly limit the opportunities of Resident hunters. Guides are generally very good at what they do (or else they would be out of business) and given that they are out in the field a lot more than 95% of resident hunters they have a very good idea where the legal sheep are and how to best access them. Hence they are very proficient at getting the few sheep that are available, sometimes even rotating a few clients into the same area until its depleted of legal rams. All the while leaving camps set-up and occupied, thereby discouraging any other hunters from hunting the area. You could make vurtually this same argument about Kenai Kings. By limiting Non-Res to draw tags only, you have a much easier time managing the harvest numbers, you can allow over pressured areas to cool off for a few years, you put an exact number on how many NonRes hunters are in the field etc.. However in order to make this palatable to the Board and any politicians involved you need to replace the revenue lost by having fewer NonRes hunters. The obvious solution is to raise the price of a NonRes tag. Someone paying 15-20K for a hunt isn't going to change their plans because the tag now costs $500 more than previous years.
    I like your thinking.

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