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Thread: How should sheep permit numbers be set?

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    Sponsor Becky99588's Avatar
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    Default How should sheep permit numbers be set?

    There are a lot of drawing hunts in the state of Alaska. The number of permits is set annually by ADF&G, most without much concern from the public. Often new permit hunts start with conservative permit numbers; as permit usage and hunter success data comes in, and when the population increases or decreases, permit numbers can be tweaked accordingly to get to a place where everyone is comfortable.

    What is comfortable to you when it comes to Dall's Sheep full-curl drawing permit numbers? If you have an opinion, note whether you're thinking about a specific area you're familiar with, a specific region/range, or all drawing sheep hunts.

    Consider the survey data that is collected in each area every 2-4 years and that not all legal sheep will show up in the "full-curl" ram class.
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    Whatever level maintains a 9yo avg age of harvest.

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    Member Bambistew's Avatar
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    What is the current management plan? Is it a gut feeling, or is there some sort of written plan?

    IMO, considering the level of effort that most draw hunters put in, you could double the current number of resident permits and not see much of an increase in harvest. People may get butt-hurt over seeing other hunters, but that's the price you pay for opportunity.

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    A few things to consider. By having a horn restriction for almost all sheep hunts in the state, the number of sheep that can be harvested every year is already limited (unless people take sheep illegally, which is another conversation).

    If there are to be further restrictions on the number of sheep that can be hunted, limiting the number of non-resident hunters will reduce the harvest more than by limiting resident hunters. This is because of the success rates of the two groups. Of course, the reason that non-residents are more successful is because in most cases they are required to be accompanied by a guide. So another way to help out sheep numbers without adding a permit requirement would be to remove the guide requirement for non-residents. Do that, and many (if not most) non-residents would hunt without a guide and their success rates would go way down.

    If adding permits to the equation, I think the first group that should be restricted is non-residents. If that isn't enough to help out the population, then residents could be required for permitting as well.

    I don't think it's a simple enough problem to solve with exact certainty statewide. Obviously the areas that are easiest to access are those that are most in need of permits to reduce the take. Adding permits to one area will result in the next area getting more pressure. But access is key. Areas that can be accessed by foot, 4 wheeler, boat, etc. are much more likely to see pressure than those that can only be accessed by airplane. Those that can't be easily accessed by any of these means (maybe 30 miles from closest landing strip) would see the fewest problems with pressure.

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bambistew View Post

    IMO, considering the level of effort that most draw hunters put in, you could double the current number of resident permits and not see much of an increase in harvest. People may get butt-hurt over seeing other hunters, but that's the price you pay for opportunity.
    This is my analysis also. Significantly increasing the number of resident draw tags of the areas still under FC restriction would have little effect on the number of sheep taken in many units, mostly due to the typical low participation and success rates. The trade off would be the reduced "aesthetically pleasing conditions" that make draw hunts so popular.

    Personally, I'm all for increasing opportunity wherever the population can handle it. Although some of the draw areas would get more crowded, that would be partially counterbalanced by reducing pressure on OTC areas. Specifically thinking about the Chugach, despite the current low numbers. There are others I wonder about too. Suspect I'm in the minority on this, but that would be my preferred option. Essentially use the permit system as a tool to spread people over the state, rather than as a way of providing just a few people with a minimal competition hunt every year.

    Non-resident tags tend to have much higher participation and harvest rates, so need to be handled differently IMO. The current percentage of hunters based system seems goofy.

    Yk

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    My analysis is, opportunity is abundant. Manage draw areas for aesthetics and a healthy amount of useless rams. Doubling the amount of people because it will have little effect on the harvest is not an improvement.

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    Member Yellowknife's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by whitepalm View Post
    My analysis is, opportunity is abundant. Manage draw areas for aesthetics and a healthy amount of useless rams. Doubling the amount of people because it will have little effect on the harvest is not an improvement.
    I think most people, including F&G, agree with you. I place more value on the opportunity to hunt unique places that restrictive drawings keep me out of... but your opinion is certainly a fair one that I can understand.

    For reference sake, F&G gave away a little over 400 resident tags last year, resulting in 270 hunters in the field harvesting 80 sheep. Essentially 1 sheep for every 5 tags issued.

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    I want to hunt these places too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowknife View Post
    Essentially use the permit system as a tool to spread people over the state, rather than as a way of providing just a few people with a minimal competition hunt every year.
    Good analysis, YK. I agree completely.
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  10. #10

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    The number of draw hunt tags should be based on the acceptable harvestable surplus which allows for sustainable healthy sheep populations. This should be based on biology....not politics....not profits. There is lots of data available to compare harvest strategies of harvesting any ram, vs. 3/4 curl, vs. full curl, vs. heavily hunted populations vs. populations in national parks that are not hunted.

    Tags should be allotted 90% to residents, 10% to non-residents....a standard that has been determined to be both fair and legal time and time again in other states. It is disturbing that because of the higher success of guided non-residents, that to make 1 additional non-resident tag available above the 10% level, 3 residents have to come out of the field to achieve the same harvest level.

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    Supporting Member iofthetaiga's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bbags View Post
    The number of draw hunt tags should be based on the acceptable harvestable surplus which allows for sustainable healthy sheep populations. This should be based on biology....not politics....not profits. There is lots of data available to compare harvest strategies of harvesting any ram, vs. 3/4 curl, vs. full curl, vs. heavily hunted populations vs. populations in national parks that are not hunted.

    Tags should be allotted 90% to residents, 10% to non-residents....a standard that has been determined to be both fair and legal time and time again in other states. It is disturbing that because of the higher success of guided non-residents, that to make 1 additional non-resident tag available above the 10% level, 3 residents have to come out of the field to achieve the same harvest level.
    This.



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  12. #12

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    I think that many people are directing the snowplow towards statewide draw. I belief that this is a mistake. There are fewer and fewer resident sheep hunters going afield. I believe that we need to look at Montana Management ideas of having several areas that are Unlimited Areas. This means that you can hunt the area every year but the years you hunt that area limit you from being able to draw a permit hunt.

    South Wrangells- November draw comes out but rather than chance not going hunting you select the South Wrangell unlimited area which guarantees you a tag but by doing so you can not enter for limited drawing permits. Non-Resident is capped at 10 drawing permits.

    Brooks Chandlar Shelf- November draw comes out but rather than chance not going hunting you get registration permit for S. Brooks but you can't hunt in another area as resident. Non-resident is capped with 10 drawing permits for the whole shelf.

    Central Alaska Range goes Draw with limit of 60 super tags for the entire stretch from Black Rapids Glacier to Kuskokwim River.

    There also needs to be five or six non-motorized walkin areas that are unlimited. Again you put in for these and you can't put in for the sheep drawing permits.

    Leave North Wrangells, White Mountains, North Brooks and Talkeetnas as completely open and see what happens to it.

    Split Kenai into 1 drawing area closer to the road and one unlimited area that has that same restriction that you put in for that and you can't put in for others.

    Lastly, Make that 160 Chugach Tazlina to Nelchina into full Curl Ram but Walkin non-motorized only.

    That should give the Sheep board stuff to mull over.

    Hope you get up to Goat Creek Becky.

    Sincerely,
    Thomas

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    1. That's about the most well thought out/written post I've read here. Several solid ideas.
    2. You must have a lot more faith in the "sheep board" than me.

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    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowknife View Post
    Significantly increasing the number of resident draw tags of the areas still under FC restriction would have little effect on the number of sheep taken in many units, mostly due to the typical low participation and success rates.
    Becky, your a former ADF&G employee, correct? Why wouldn't the above work? Why do we have draw hunts at all if the FC restriction is working?
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    Member Bambistew's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Yellowknife View Post
    The trade off would be the reduced "aesthetically pleasing conditions" that make draw hunts so popular.
    How does aesthetics play into the "maximum benefit of Alaskans?" Seems to only be benefiting a few? I'm all for having it to myself, but even in the most heavily hunted areas you can have seclusion. I don't believe that we should be managing our natural resources based on how people "feel" when hunting.

    Were the Chugach hunts prior to the draw really that terrible for pressure? I didn't get to hunt them, so I'm unsure just how bad they were. Was the Chugach set up as a "trophy" hunt, or did the reduction of pressure create it, and now its being perpetuated?

    We don't hear people complain about the pressure in the Delta even though it has the highest hunter density of ANY area in the state.

    I'd like to see draw hunts managed for a % of available FC rams harvested. If a survey indicates we have x number of legal rams, then we should harvest what ever is most prudent for the range to maintain the population, i.e. "sustainable yield."

    One unsurprising conclusion from Dr. Brinkman's survey is that 90%+/- of sheep hunters want, opportunity to hunt BIG sheep every year in seclusion from other hunters... That's my pipe dream too, but it isn't reality. I think given the choice between the 3, opportunity would win out, but I might be wrong.

    IMO, if you want aesthetics and big sheep, apply for Delta and Tok, both were designed with that in mind. Turning an entire mountain range into another Tok/Delta hunt is wrong, IMO. We've set a precedence for managing hunters instead of sheep. Opportunity is abundant now, but in the future when the majority want their slice of heaven over all else, it will be at the expense of opportunity when it goes to a draw. I care about opportunity for the next generation of Alaskans, and a draw hunt is not a road I want to go down.

    As an FYI, the average age of rams harvested in 14C and 13D is less than 9 years of age, and has been for 25 of the last 28 years (the exceptions were in the mid '90s where the age was just over 9). This doesn't mean there aren't more mature rams on the mountain today compared to years past. We need solid survey data if we were to manage for a certain age structure, even then, do we gain anything over the FC rule? That said, the FC rule eliminates over harvest... so drop the draw all together.

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    Sponsor Becky99588's Avatar
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    Default Focus...

    I don't want to see this post fall into the debate of whether drawing hunts should exist. Respectfully, that's not what I'm looking for here.

    To address some background questions brought up, the TMA, DMA, and 14C drawing hunts have been around for a long time. They were all designed for some rendition of providing a quality hunt opportunity for hunters willing to wait for a permit. 14A and 13D drawing hunts were implemented in 2008 following the same line of thinking, but specifically to reduce extreme pressure on a declining number of full curl rams (the harvest was running very near or higher than the number of full-curl rams observed annually, no corrections, no assumptions). One biological concern discussed in the proposal, but not acknowledged by all, was that consistent heavy pressure on fast growing full-curls can eventually lead to a genetic shift towards rams that don't reach full curl (consider selective breeding in agriculture - a couple generations can change phenotype, the outward appearance of a trait, significantly). Without going into detail, Dall's sheep populations can often sustain very high hunting pressure, and still persist. So there's the sustainability of a highly desirable phenotypic trait (full-curl+), and then there's population sustainability; try not to confuse the two. Remember, conservation when discussing a trophy species is in the eye of the beholder.

    I'll cut to the chase. TMA and DMA permit numbers were stable for a very long time, arbitrarily set many years ago. As the populations have declined, the permit numbers have been arbitrarily reduced over time as well. You can read the management objectives for each area in the 3-yr statewide sheep management report if you're interested http://www.adfg.alaska.gov/index.cfm...lifemanagement

    14C permit numbers, arbitrarily set, again somewhat based on population numbers (but you won't find any formula - none exists).

    I won't discuss 14A or 13D west permit numbers here as those are any ram drawing hunts. Again, different topic for another day.

    My question pertained solely to full curl drawing permit numbers.

    If I told you that 2015 survey numbers in the 13D east permit hunt area DS165/DS265 showed a somewhat steady decline in overall sheep numbers over the past 12 years (particularly ewes), and a 2015 total count of 3 full-curl rams, what is your reaction that there are 25 drawing permits out there (20 res and 5 nonres)? [Unique to 13D, 80% of sheep permits go to residents, 20% to non-residents due to the long history of very high non-resident participation in this subunit, ~30% through 2006].

    Understandably population numbers can change fast, and survey data cannot be collected annually, so it is inherently difficult to tweak permit numbers annually on a set formula. However, these numbers don't track with the original concept behind the implementation of this drawing hunt in 2008.

    Given this hunt, and other full-curl draw hunts you're familiar with, would you like to see this changed and if so how?
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Becky99588 View Post
    My question pertained solely to full curl drawing permit numbers.

    If I told you that 2015 survey numbers in the 13D east permit hunt area DS165/DS265 showed a somewhat steady decline in overall sheep numbers over the past 12 years (particularly ewes), and a 2015 total count of 3 full-curl rams, what is your reaction that there are 25 drawing permits out there (20 res and 5 nonres)? [Unique to 13D, 80% of sheep permits go to residents, 20% to non-residents due to the long history of very high non-resident participation in this subunit, ~30% through 2006].

    Understandably population numbers can change fast, and survey data cannot be collected annually, so it is inherently difficult to tweak permit numbers annually on a set formula. However, these numbers don't track with the original concept behind the implementation of this drawing hunt in 2008.

    Given this hunt, and other full-curl draw hunts you're familiar with, would you like to see this changed and if so how?
    If there was a count of 3 full curl rams during the survey and this hunt hasn't EO'd then we have a serious problem. Which wouldn't surprise me in the least. This is why I prefer a way more conservative approach to legal ram harvest. For the sheep. *** is opportunity worth if we dont even know how to manage sheep properly. For the benefit of all Alaskans, now and for the future.

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    Well, hunting has always been about sustainable surplus.. I mean adfg needs to use their information and education to determine quotas that dont hurt population numbers. Down here on the kenai for round mountain they issue about 4 permits for full curl rams every year and thats how many full curl rams there are. But its a good number cause rarely is a sheep harvested there as experienced hunters dont apply or get drawn. Sometimes weather will reduce full curl numbers but the quota can remain as the overall population is sound, other times like the brooks last year you reduce harvest so the population can recover. I guess you just need to trust the bios to preserve the population. That should be their job.
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  19. #19

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    I've got no business commenting on sheep management threads. I have my fingers crossed for more favorable conditions that allow for the population to expand.

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    Quote Originally Posted by whitepalm View Post
    I've got no business commenting on sheep management threads. I have my fingers crossed for more favorable conditions that allow for the population to expand.
    Not sure ADF&G does either?

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