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Thread: Wayne Heimer sounds of on sheep proposals

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    Default Wayne Heimer sounds of on sheep proposals

    Wayne Heimer, Dall sheep “geezer-biologist,” here with hot Dall sheep news and commentary. This is gonna take a while, so grab a cup of coffee.

    I presume you all know the “who gets to hunt Dall sheep (and now ‘when”)” issue has been fermenting with the Board of Game over the last several Board cycles. It was caused by a well-orchestrated deluge of regulation change proposals to the Board of Game. These proposals came primarily from a few disaffected resident hunters, and successfully re-ignited the ever-smoldering resentment Alaska resident hunters have always harbored toward guides and their non-resident clients.

    Virtually all of these proposals rely on the folklore-based myths that:

    • We’re killing all the sheep
    • Nonresidents kill all the big sheep
    • Sheep hunting sucks compared to the good old days
    • Ram horn size is getting smaller
    • We’re over-harvesting trophy rams
    • There are too many hunters and too few sheep

    Fish and Game’s sheep harvest data refute all these myths. In fact:

    • Only about 50% of harvestable legal rams are shot each year
    • Nonresidents don’t kill larger rams than residents
    • On average, neither group of hunters is very selective for large or old rams
    • We have fewer total sheep hunters than ever
    • Average ram horn size is greater than ever
    • The percent of 40-inchers in the harvest is within normal ranges
    • Resident hunter success is as high as ever (~30%)
    • Resident hunter numbers have declined while nonresident numbers (and success) have remained constant

    The Board of Game will meet this week to decide the fate of sheep hunting opportunity (and management). The meeting will be in Wasilla, with the sheep stuff scheduled primarily for Friday. Department reports will be during the day and there will be a special work session Friday night. Public testimony will begin on Saturday. If you want to comment during the Friday night work session, but can’t get to the Best Western Lake Lucille Inn in Wasilla at 6:30pm, the work session is accessible via teleconference at 1 (844) 586-9085.

    The Board has creatively positioned itself to act on the huge backlog of proposals. Proposal #208 (from the Board itself) summarizes the apparent intent of the existing backlog of proposals submitted over the last six years by special-interests. It (#208) contains options for public comment. I favor the “no action” option. It’s not that I want “nothing to happen.” As I understand it, the “no action” option includes a review/rewrite of our existing Dall sheep management plans. I’m for that. I’m definitely NOT FOR THE OPTION THAT WOULD PUT RESIDENTS ON DRAWING PERMITS FOR CURRENTLY OPEN AREAS.

    For me, this whole business raises the question, “Why did this happen?” If you care to read on (how’s that coffee doing?), I’ll share more about the history of these issues and my views on them. It may be more than you find interesting. If you want to quit now, (or skip to the end of this lengthy post) that’s certainly OK. I just wanted to share my ideas, offer you some facts, and make sure you know about your opportunities to participate. Here’s “the whole load.”
    —————————————————————-

    Wayne Heimer’s view of the present Dall sheep hunting opportunity conflict

    Ancient History:

    During territorial days, hunting regulations were harsh and “top down” from the federal government. The needs of local people were ignored. Consequently, the emerging State of Alaska reacted by assuring local interests would always receive full consideration. That’s why we have our Board of Game/Advisory Committee system. However, if left unchecked, this “local or special-interest system” virtually assures that locals will always “vote others off of the island.” That’s what humans do.

    Commentary:

    Local (special) interests are generally contrary to the general public interest. That’s why our constitution’s framers established policies of maximum use consistent with scientific conservation and general public interest.

    To make this work, we have a traditional American “check and balance” system between branches of government. The Board of Game/Advisory Committee system exists as part of the Legislative Branch of government. The Department of Fish and Game exists in the Executive Branch. Hence, I reason, the Board of Game exists to factor local and special interest input into allocation of harvest opportunity while the Department is to uphold scientific management and the maximum use policy prescribed in Alaska’s Constitution. These two entities must work in concert to produce regulations that harmonize both general public and special interests with Alaska’s natural resource use policy as defined by the Alaska Constitution and Statutes. When there's a conflict, Alaska's Constitution and Statutes take precedence.

    Some “nuts and bolts” of management:

    Our constitution says the Commissioner of Fish and Game is the chief manager of Alaska’s fish and game. He/she acts through the Department of Fish and Game. Alaska Statute Title 16 defines the commissioner’s duties to include (slightly paraphrased) ‘managing, protecting, maintaining, improving, and extending the game resources of the state in the interest of the economy and general well-being of the state.’ That would be clear enough if there were a definition of what “managing” is. I’ve never found one.

    Generally, when asked to define “wildlife management,” biologists revert to Aldo Leopold’s abstraction about damping the normal fluctuations in wildlife populations to assure a stable, sustainable harvest. That doesn’t fit very well with Alaskan reality. So, after many years of thinking it over, I’ve proposed a general definition that I think may fit better. I’m certainly not Aldo Leopold, but I’ve seen things Aldo never imagined. He’s been gone a long time.

    What is management?

    I suggest that management is "intervening in an established system to produce, maintain, or expand a pre-defined benefit." I think this definition fits every management enterprise from business/financial management to human resources management, and will also serve for wildlife management.

    Management in Alaska:

    Alaska’s pre-defined benefit is listed in our Constitution (Article VIII). This benefit is maximum opportunity to harvest game (see Coghill and Campbell on Sustained Yield and the Alaska Constitution) primarily for human food.

    Wildlife management in Alaska requires several essential components to produce Alaska’s predefined benefit. I suggest the essential components of management begin with research (a manager must know the details of the established system he/she is tweaking to yield benefits). Management also includes an understanding of and allegiance to policy (which defines the benefits to be produced, maintained, or enhanced). Next, management plans are required to define (so we can all agree on) how we’re going to produce those pre-defined benefits. Management plans are implemented by practical harvest regulations to assure the pre-defined benefits actually occur and are shared as constitutionally and legally mandated. Finally, regulatory enforcement is required to make things work as planned. To be successful, a manger must keep the public informed about what is going on in every facet of our common interest in management.

    Reconciling these diverse challenges is not simple or necessarily intuitive. This is why requirements for becoming a wildlife manager in Alaska are set rather high in terms of education and experience.

    The Department begins to stop managing:

    Decades ago, Departmental leadership began to progressively divest itself of management responsibilities. During the 25 years I worked as a Dall sheep and general management biologist (1971-1997), the Department stepped away from regulating guiding, enforcement, marine mammal management, maximizing harvest opportunities, managing Alaska’s wildlife on federal lands, and allocation of hunting opportunity. These voids have been assumed by the Department of Commerce (guide qualifications and practices), the Department of Public Safety (enforcement), the Federal Government (marine mammals), the dissatisfied Alaska hunting public (which gave us the Intensive Management Law), and the Board of Game (allocation). Of course the federal government has asserted its management responsibility on federal lands—and, trust me, “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet!”

    As a result, the remaining Commissioner’s responsibilities for wildlife management are limited to rather flexible population inventory and research, harvest tracking, and regulatory support activities designed to provide information to the Board for setting the seasons and bag limits which define allocation of opportunity to harvest.

    My concern:

    With the Department separating itself from “allocation,” I think I see the Board of Game becoming the actual manager via its allocation function. This looks different than our constitution and laws, which call for the Department to be the manager. The Board’s bailiwick is to allocate harvest opportunities according to state policy. In the absence of a Commissioner willing to engage the Board of Game in pursuit of his/her responsibilities, the Board's designed-in populist inclination will predictably result in situations like the present, strange Dall sheep resident preference issue or other “local harvest” advantages.

    More history:

    This is not our new Commissioner, Sam Cotten's fault. Commissioners going back as far as the early 1970s have tended toward shifting tough management decisions away from their Departments to the Boards of Game and Fish. The Board of Fisheries has been the fish manager for decades already. This “management Board” concept gives rise to the common complaint that the commercial fishing industry (acting through the Board of Fish) manages Alaska’s fisheries harvest at the expense of subsistence and personal use fishers. The perennial struggle over which users will get Copper River salmon is an example.

    The essence of today’s Dall sheep conflict:

    Today’s conflict over Dall sheep hunting opportunity limitations comes down to whether a coordinated cadre of activist residents can manipulate our Board of Game/Advisory Committee system to secure preferential or exclusive use of Alaska’s legal Dall rams when there is no resource shortage. In general, Advisory Committees have rejected the bulk of the proposals. Whether the Board will follow this “advice,” remains to be seen.

    On the surface, these proposals “look like simple allocation,” but I think they represent a larger problem. As things stand, the Board may alter overall state policy if it passes public proposals that limit Dall sheep hunting opportunity when it isn’t necessary. I argue that the Department should be insisting the Board apply constitutional and statutory standards in allocating harvest opportunity in support of the commissioner’s mandate to “manage, protect, maintain, improve, and extend” Alaska’s Dall sheep resource. If the Commissioner can’t see it, I’m afraid the Board will have to rescue his office.

    More commentary:

    I see today’s Dall sheep situation as the result of a series of “ timid” or “disinterested” commissioners (mostly folks with commercial fishing focus) plus a series of wildlife directors who shifted the responsibility for difficult or unpopular policy decisions to the Board of Game. In a vacuum like this, only the vision of alert Board of Game members who see beyond their responsibility to consider local opinion is likely to limit the Board’s built-in populist inclinations. This places an unreasonable burden on the Board.

    Given the passivity of a Department which thinks it should not be involved in allocation, only the integrity of the Board of Game membership currently stands between special interest dominance and neglect of the common use and maximum opportunity clauses of Alaska’s Constitution.

    What next?

    I do not expect the Board of Game to actually give in to the generated impression of a Dall sheep ram-harvest crisis. However, if the Board of Game should fail to see responsibilities beyond it’s established populist mandates, I can think of three ways we might solve this problem. All of these proposed solutions have the virtue (as I see it) of maintaining our Board of Game as an “allocation” board rather than having it become a “management” board as has happened with the Board of Fisheries.

    First, we can encourage our new Commissioner, Sam Cotten, to engage with the Board of Game as the “check” on the Board's legitimate local/Alaska-preference orientation. This will require a major shift away from established tradition for the Commissioner's Office. There may still be time to do this. The Board plans to hear arguments on sheep management this week, but won’t make its decision till March. That gives the Commissioner time to participate at this level.

    Alternately, the Legislature (which is responsible for its Board of Game) may have to help the Board to assure adherence to Alaska’s state policies. Only the legislature can establish resource management policy, the Boards can’t do it. At present, the Board of Game may effectively alter state policy by bowing to public pressure to limit Dall sheep hunting opportunity when there is no conservation-based need to do so. Legislative oversight is unlikely to be popular with the Board of Game, and seems unlikely to please the Department or Legislature either.

    The other alternative I can imagine is for the Board of Game and the Department to cooperate as separate, legitimate government entities rather than blending into one. The mechanism for this cooperation is the management planning process.

    The Board and Department currently have Board-approved, mutually-agreed-upon (and publicly reviewed) Dall sheep management plans on their books. These Dall sheep plans have been there for 40 years. When written, the Dall sheep management plans were the most biologically-based, publicly-driven, and use-backgrounded plans made by the Department.

    I argue that before radically altering state policy or Dall sheep hunting opportunity, the backlog of special-interest proposals should be rejected by the Board. Then, competent professional biologists should review and update the management plans in light of what has changed during the last 40 years. Then the draft plans should be presented to the Alaska public for comment and revision. Finally, the plans should be sent to the appropriate entity for adoption as policy. If the plans are to have the force of policy, the legislature must be involved.

    A great deal has happened in the last 40 years, including the pipeline road through the Brooks Range, the emergence of the federal government as “managers” rather than stewards of federal lands, the subsistence movement, increased awareness of Dall sheep biology and predation on sheep, creation of vast "no hunting" zones with ANILCA, many more state controlled-use areas for Dall sheep, and federal overreach into access via federal regulations, which have altered the interest in Dall sheep hunting in Alaska. Overall, sheep hunting in Alaska has declined 50% since passage of ANICA.

    My conclusion:

    1. The existing proposals to alter Dall sheep management are ill-thought, and should be rejected by the Board of Game.

    2. Management plans are the way the Board of Game and the Department can effectively work together under existing state policy.

    3. Alaska's Dall sheep management plans could clearly use a review, and obviously some significant revisions.

    4. Competent professionals should lead the management planning review and re-drafting.


    I Recommend:

    That the Commissioner and Board of Game cooperate to reject the special interest proposals the Board will consider this week. I also recommend the Board encourage the Department to review and revise its management plans with an eye toward enhanced allegiance to established policy, the last 40 years of biological discovery, and informed public opinion before considering any changes in harvest opportunity allocation between residents and nonresidents via season (or permits) and bag limit restrictions.

    If you’ve managed to get this far, I congratulate you! And I thank you for your willingness to consider the musings of a “geezer” Dall sheep biologist.

    Be well,

    Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Heimer View Post
    Alaska’s pre-defined benefit is listed in our Constitution (Article VIII). This benefit is maximum opportunity to harvest game (see Coghill and Campbell on Sustained Yield and the Alaska Constitution) primarily for human food.

    <snip>

    Today’s conflict over Dall sheep hunting opportunity limitations comes down to whether a coordinated cadre of activist residents can manipulate our Board of Game/Advisory Committee system to secure preferential or exclusive use of Alaska’s legal Dall rams when there is no resource shortage.
    Wayne: I think that the above extracted quotes succinctly summarizes the issue, and instructs the solution. When it comes to game, the benefit is opportunity to harvest, the benefit is due to residents, and if you want to call residents a "special interest group" it's true that they are advocating for preferential treatment.

    Doesn't the constitution guarantee residents preferential treatment?

    Complicating the issue is that guides and taxidermists are residents too, and guides benefit from the status quo. But, it is difficult for me to criticize resident advocacy for preferential treatment when the constitution makes it so clear that they are due preferential treatment.

    That said, I wholeheartedly endorse your plea for a more active commissioner who empowers his biologists to be more involved with developing and implementing management plans. We should be so blessed as to have our game populations managed by competent and dedicated professionals with no "skin in the game"

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    Mr. Heimer - Thank you for taking the time to put that together and for participating here. I draw some different conclusions than you, but I have great respect for the work you've done and know that your participation will certainly enlighten the conversation here. Thanks.

    I must admit that I find the notes about leaving 50% of the rams on the mountain to be somewhat misleading in practice. I understand the reasoning behind the number - if 50% of the rams we are killing are 9 years or older, clearly they were legal the previous year(s) and thus were unharvested surplus at that time. That makes perfect sense to me. That said, while those rams are technically legal for harvest, in many cases they are not what I would call reasonably harvestable. Many of these rams that are killed at 9+ years were not full curl at 8 years of age. While age legal, most would steer sheep hunters away from trying to kill a ram based on counting rings - especially if there aren't at least 10 obvious rings to account for the possible presence of false annuli. As such, I would wager that in many (most?) open season areas, well more than 50% of the reasonably harvestable (full curl) rams are harvested. Semantics, perhaps, but to point to those rams as evidence that there is not an issue with hunter pressure is disingenuous at best in my opinion. We certainly don't want more sublegal rams harvested, and that is what occurs when folks are encouraged to start counting rings and attempting to shoot 8 year old rams based on that approach.

    This year my wife and I hunted the first few days of the season and spent three days watching two groups of rams - eight sheep in total. Three of them were 7/8 curl, and of those two were within a fraction of an inch of being full. It would really not be an understatement to call the largest of the group 31/32 curl - he was thaaaat close. Nevertheless, we chose to pass him up. If he survived the year and is harvested next year, it may very well turn out that he was age legal this year. In that case, he would be counted among the 50% of legal rams that are left on the mountain, thus he could be part of the argument that there isn't any issue with hunter pressure and that there are plenty of legal rams to go around. I would disagree with this take in part, as he was hunted and would have been harvested had he been clearly legal. Again, the numbers may show that 50% of age legal rams are left on the mountain each year, but it is a misleading argument in some of the discussion taking place as it does not support some of the conclusions drawn.

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    Before this thread inevitably gets buried in the weeds of incessant argument over allocation, and minutia of data, I'd like to add a couple of (seemingly important) facts which are not included in Mr. Heimer's bulleted list:


    • Overall, the total number of sheep harvested has been declining for the past 20 years.
    • Overall, the total estimated sheep population has been declining for the past 20 years.


    We can argue, parse, and spin the rest of the data and factoids forever, but none of it really matters so long as we ignore the last bullet above.

    Like everyone, I have my opinions about allocation, and frankly I don't believe the current allocation distribution necessarily satisfies the intent of Article VIII of our State Constitution:


    ARTICLE VIII – NATURAL RESOURCES

    Section 1. Statement of Policy.
    It is the policy of the State to encourage
    the settlement of its land and the development of its resources by making
    them available for maximum use consistent with the public interest.

    Section 2. General Authority.
    The legislature shall provide for the
    utilization, development, and conservation of all natural resources belonging
    to the State, including land and waters, for the maximum benefit of its
    people.

    Section 3. Common Use.
    Wherever occurring in their natural state, fish,
    wildlife, and waters are reserved to the people for common use.

    Section 4. Sustained Yield.
    Fish, forests, wildlife, grasslands, and all
    other replenishable resources belonging to the State shall be utilized,
    developed, and maintained on the sustained yield principle, subject to
    preferences among beneficial uses.
    However, allocation issues aside, one thing is d&mn certain; our sheep population is in decline, and no matter how you spin it, that does not equate to being "maintained on the sustained yield principle". Something has to change. Let's try to keep our eye on the ball!

    Source:
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/ho...s/11_sheep.pdf
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/sp...tus_trends.pdf
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    I added this to the other sheep thread and guess I will put it here too. It is not just the words of the Common Use Clause that count, it is the case histories where the constitution gets interpreted that matter as well. For those who believe that residents should have all the preference and that the common use clause reserves that for you, I think you may want to look at the Owsichek decision by the Alaska Supreme Court. The main case revolved around finding that exclusive guide areas were unconstitutional under the Article VIII. However, in the discussion section, the following is stated:


    "The state argues that EGAs do not deny Owsichek common use of the wildlife resources because he, like any other member of the public, may hunt recreationally in these areas. We reject this argument. In CWC Fisheries v. Bunker, 755 P.2d 1115, 1121 n. 14 (Alaska 1988), we noted that the public trust doctrine guaranteed fishermen access to public resources for "private commercial purposes" as well as for recreation. The same rationale applies to professional hunting guides under the common use clause.[15] The common use clause makes no distinction between use for personal purposes and use for professional purposes.[16] "

    That last sentence says it all - there is no distinction between use for personal vs professional purposes. I am not a guide, just a resident hunter, and I put this out there to facilitate an informed discussion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKTrapHuntFish View Post
    I added this to the other sheep thread and guess I will put it here too. It is not just the words of the Common Use Clause that count, it is the case histories where the constitution gets interpreted that matter as well. For those who believe that residents should have all the preference and that the common use clause reserves that for you, I think you may want to look at the Owsichek decision by the Alaska Supreme Court. The main case revolved around finding that exclusive guide areas were unconstitutional under the Article VIII. However, in the discussion section, the following is stated:


    "The state argues that EGAs do not deny Owsichek common use of the wildlife resources because he, like any other member of the public, may hunt recreationally in these areas. We reject this argument. In CWC Fisheries v. Bunker, 755 P.2d 1115, 1121 n. 14 (Alaska 1988), we noted that the public trust doctrine guaranteed fishermen access to public resources for "private commercial purposes" as well as for recreation. The same rationale applies to professional hunting guides under the common use clause.[15] The common use clause makes no distinction between use for personal purposes and use for professional purposes.[16] "

    That last sentence says it all - there is no distinction between use for personal vs professional purposes. I am not a guide, just a resident hunter, and I put this out there to facilitate an informed discussion.

    AKTrapHuntFish
    I'm going to take some exception with your thought process above, that being said;
    "Alaska's Fisheries Resource" can and is used in a "Commercial/Professional Manner" but "Alaska's Terra-Firma Game Animals" can not be used in that same "Commercial/Professional Manner" as the fisheries do.
    Thus your assumption above, ie...
    The same rationale applies etc... etc... I don't believe is accurate, you have looked at one Court Case, that was dealing with a "Fisheries-Issue" and attached those findings to a Hunting issue, that's my take on this, I may be wrong, but I don't think so.
    "TG"
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    Mr Heimer,,

    Your reputation precedes you here and I have the upmost respect for you and all you have accomplished in sheep research. As one of the “xenophobic activist” as you have labeled those of us that have either submitted or supported the recent proposals, which only serves to inflame by the way.

    I would like to ask you to address the recent trend of the harvest of rams becoming younger and younger. Also if sheep number are not in a decline, why has F&G closed parts of the Brooks by EO, eliminated the draw hunt in the Western Brooks DS384 and reduced the number of tags in TMA and DCUA?? Also, my “boots on the ground” observation is that sheep numbers are indeed reduced, much because of the recent trends in weather I believe.

    I too believe that the current FC rules has led to rams being harvested soon after they become FC with many of the rams passed over each fall being age legal and not FC.

    By closing parts of 13/14 the hunting pressure was been concentrated into 19/20 which has been almost completely dominated by commercial operators pushing more and more resident hunters into the Brooks Range. The free for all guiding that takes place on state land has also forced residents into the Federal lands of the Brooks. Since the guide concession plan that has been proposed on state land has never come into being, many such as myself drive by some of the best sheep country in the state to get to the Brooks Range to avoid guide/ resident conflict.

    Since limiting guides has failed, resident hunters feel that we have no other choice but to appeal to the BOG to limit non-resident tags. I as a resident feel it is unfair for commercial operators to dominate the best areas on state land year after year. You only have to try to book a flight into 19/20 to see that it is next to impossible to get any transporter to fly you into the areas that guides use. This occurs year in and year out and they refuse to fly in resident hunters even when ask to book 2 or 3 years in advance.

    I fully support both guides and non-resident sheep hunters, I just feel that there should be EQUAL access for all to the states sheep.

    Thanks in advance for your time Sir.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKTrapHuntFish View Post
    I added this to the other sheep thread and guess I will put it here too. It is not just the words of the Common Use Clause that count, it is the case histories where the constitution gets interpreted that matter as well. For those who believe that residents should have all the preference and that the common use clause reserves that for you, I think you may want to look at the Owsichek decision by the Alaska Supreme Court. The main case revolved around finding that exclusive guide areas were unconstitutional under the Article VIII. However, in the discussion section, the following is stated:


    "The state argues that EGAs do not deny Owsichek common use of the wildlife resources because he, like any other member of the public, may hunt recreationally in these areas. We reject this argument. In CWC Fisheries v. Bunker, 755 P.2d 1115, 1121 n. 14 (Alaska 1988), we noted that the public trust doctrine guaranteed fishermen access to public resources for "private commercial purposes" as well as for recreation. The same rationale applies to professional hunting guides under the common use clause.[15] The common use clause makes no distinction between use for personal purposes and use for professional purposes.[16] "

    That last sentence says it all - there is no distinction between use for personal vs professional purposes. I am not a guide, just a resident hunter, and I put this out there to facilitate an informed discussion.
    Owsichek simply ruled that GUA are not allowed. I don't think it's relevant to the question of whether or not allocation to non residents is beneficial to residents of the state in aggregrate due to incremental benefit to resident guides.

    however, I do recognize that to, in fact, be a benefit that should be considered

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    Wayne,

    Regarding the issue of average horn length increasing over the last 40 years, I think there are at least two reasons for this that are rather obvious. First, 40 years ago most or all of the state was under a 3/4 curl restriction, which later went to 7/8 and then to full curl. Those smaller rams that were legal back in the 3/4 days are going to skew the numbers, are they not? It seems to me that if we wanted a true assessment of horn length relative to full curl rams, we would look at the numbers since we went to full curl, right? I looked at Kavalok's report and he indicates a small increase or a small decrease in certain areas, but nothing that would point to a general increase since we went to full curl. Are you seeing something different?

    Second, it seems logical that since we started sealing harvested sheep, we *might* see an increase in horn length borne out of hunters choosing to pass on rams they were not 100% sure of, knowing they would be checked. I don't have any data on this, however human nature would be for some hunters to take a ram that was "really close" if they knew they would not be checked, but taking a more conservative approach if they knew for sure that someone was going to inspect their ram post-harvest. Do you have anything on this?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Strahan View Post
    Wayne,

    Regarding the issue of average horn length increasing over the last 40 years, I think there are at least two reasons for this that are rather obvious. First, 40 years ago most or all of the state was under a 3/4 curl restriction, which later went to 7/8 and then to full curl. Those smaller rams that were legal back in the 3/4 days are going to skew the numbers, are they not? It seems to me that if we wanted a true assessment of horn length relative to full curl rams, we would look at the numbers since we went to full curl, right? I looked at Kavalok's report and he indicates a small increase or a small decrease in certain areas, but nothing that would point to a general increase since we went to full curl. Are you seeing something different?

    Second, it seems logical that since we started sealing harvested sheep, we *might* see an increase in horn length borne out of hunters choosing to pass on rams they were not 100% sure of, knowing they would be checked. I don't have any data on this, however human nature would be for some hunters to take a ram that was "really close" if they knew they would not be checked, but taking a more conservative approach if they knew for sure that someone was going to inspect their ram post-harvest. Do you have anything on this?

    -Mike
    Mike...have you looked at historical data from 40 years ago that would show where and what level of harvest was coming out of each region?

    40 years ago there was hardly any pressure on sheep in the Brooks....at least compared to how it has been in the last decade.

    Point is what would historical data like hunter effort/harvest by region tell us about sheep composition numbers being tossed around?

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    Can someone put a link to these "plans?" I assume the are something other than the adfg management reports, which do have a planning element to them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redmammoth View Post
    Can someone put a link to these "plans?" I assume the are something other than the adfg management reports, which do have a planning element to them.
    here is the Alaska Backcountry Hunters' proposal - I think. http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters....%20meeting.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by iofthetaiga View Post
    Before this thread inevitably gets buried in the weeds of incessant argument over allocation, and minutia of data, I'd like to add a couple of (seemingly important) facts which are not included in Mr. Heimer's bulleted list:


    • Overall, the total number of sheep harvested has been declining for the past 20 years.
    • Overall, the total estimated sheep population has been declining for the past 20 years.


    We can argue, parse, and spin the rest of the data and factoids forever, but none of it really matters so long as we ignore the last bullet above.

    Like everyone, I have my opinions about allocation, and frankly I don't believe the current allocation distribution necessarily satisfies the intent of Article VIII of our State Constitution:


    However, allocation issues aside, one thing is d&mn certain; our sheep population is in decline, and no matter how you spin it, that does not equate to being "maintained on the sustained yield principle". Something has to change. Let's try to keep our eye on the ball!

    Source:
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/ho...s/11_sheep.pdf
    http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/static/sp...tus_trends.pdf
    Just as important and not to be overlooked re: Article VIII of our State Constitution

    § 16. Protection of Rights

    No person shall be involuntarily divested of his right to the use of waters, his interests in lands, or improvements affecting either, except for a superior beneficial use or public purpose and then only with just compensation and by operation of law.
    § 17. Uniform Application

    Laws and regulations governing the use or disposal of natural resources shall apply equally to all persons similarly situated with reference to the subject matter and purpose to be served by the law or regulation.

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    At the Mat-Su Fish and Game advisory committee meeting on Jan 21st Fish and Game made it very clear that Rams don't matter. That they can manage for whatever rules the BOG gives them. That what will ultimately lead to more sheep and thus more rams is more ewes and easier winters. F&G does not care resident vs nonresident. So yes, the BOG is going to determine how the resource is ultimately utilized. That is why anyone who is interested needs to voice their concerns at these meetings. What was scary to me was some of the board generated proposals.

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    Quote Originally Posted by polardds View Post
    What was scary to me was some of the board generated proposals.
    What...you have a problem with BOG Chair Spraker having a secret (closed door) all day meeting at F&G building in Anchorage on a Saturday with special interest group and ADF&G staff followed immediately by Spraker presenting Board Generated Proposals for rubber stamping by the Board that the public (A/C's) never saw coming?

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    -----Original Message-----
    From: Brett Barringer
    To: Ted Spraker; tony.kavalok; alaskanate; bruce.dale


    Subject: Informal Sheep Working Group Meeting


    All,


    We will be having an informal sheep hunting working group meeting Saturday January 3rd. The meeting will take place at 10am in the Alaska fish and game headquarters conference room on Raspberry Road.....We formally request your presence to observe our informal working group's discussion. I understand this is short notice. Please RSVP, so we can account for food and refreshments. Thank you!


    Sincerely,


    Dr. Brett A. Barringer
    President Alaska Chapter SCI

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    Dan,

    Wayne Heimer here. The management plans should not be confused with the proposals before the Board. The plans are old (since 1976). There are 21 of them on the books. A friend of sheep has digitized them (too hours), and sent e-copies to the BOG and several leaders in the Department. I don't think they are available "on line," (yet). I'll see what I can do to get someone with the files to post them somewhere. The way we wrote those plans, they don't look too much like the numerical objective type things you see in today's management reports. We had "experience type" goals in the original plans. One goal was "maximum opportunity." Another was "aesthetics," and yet another was "trophy hunting." Then, there was a fourth called, "photography and scientific study." With ANILCA, that one began to gobble up way more area than when the plans were written. As of 1985, the last time I reviewed the plans in a publication (that should be available on the Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council website--a 1985 supplemental publication called "Population Status and Management of Dall Sheep in Alaska, 1984) 28% of Alaska's sheep habitats (by area) was "maximum." Thirty nine percent was "aesthetics," and 3% was "trophy." After ANILCA (which was the case with that review paper) 30% was in the rather euphemistic goal (which we didn't think we could do anything about) of "photography and scientific study." Over the decades, the "experience type" goals got replaced by the modern population and harvest objective goals...which are extremely difficult to meet without active management to make more sheep. Consequently, many of them aren't met. The Department has, I hear, plans to link this up more tightly.

    Regards,

    Wayne

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    Mike,

    Of course you're right about horn sizes being larger because we no longer harvest immature rams...except by mistake. When that happens (10% of the time according to Joe Want) it seems because folks make mistakes. Ten percent seems too large, but it means 90% get it right. We could reduce the 10% if hunters had a better opportunity to learn what is required. Nobody sets out to make a mistake.

    My point was that we're taking full curls which should be stable in size. They pretty well are. And, hunter success is unchanged from the days when folks seemed OK with 33% for residents. Makes me think that things are less than ideal, but not so bad we need to make changes without an overall harvest plan (which is based on a strategy.

    Wayne

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    Stid,

    You're right, my use of "xenophobic" added nothing to enlightenment. Sorry. In looking a bit more at the harvest data (analyzed by Joe Want) it looks like there's a significant amount of nonresident pressure that comes from relatives hunting with residents. They have a success rate that is about 50% (compared with 33% for residents and 70% for guided nonresidents).

    My point (which could easily have been missed among all the other stuff) was that we should not make changes based on proposals that don't factor into a general harvest strategy and management plan. I hope this is a bit more enlightening.

    I'll try to do better in the future, (acually, an editor of mine tried to save us all, but I made the mistake anyway)

    Wayne

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    Quote Originally Posted by Wayne Heimer View Post

    My point (which could easily have been missed among all the other stuff) was that we should not make changes based on proposals that don't factor into a general harvest strategy and management plan. I hope this is a bit more enlightening

    Wayne
    Most of the proposals the BOG has the opportunity to consider address some element of preference for resident harvest opportunity (not horn/age harvest components).

    Are you suggesting that a 'general harvest strategy' should not be weighted with a resident preference?

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