In light of the other thread about sealing sheep I thought I'd start one to get an idea of what sheep hunters here have experienced when getting their rams sealed and what you have observed while maybe other hunters were there getting their rams sealed. Have they done more than measure the horn length and bases? Have they taken flesh samples or asked specific questions that would give them info that would otherwise not be reported on your harvest permit? Have you had bios or techs disagree on the age of your ram? What method did they use to determine full curl? Eyeball it? Pipe method? Stick method? Also, please include where you had your ram sealed. I'm just curious in light of F&G's recent statement regarding the program. You can read it below. I have bolded some of it. They basically say they started it for law enforcement reasons and say that has worked. Now they think they can gather biological data and that may infact be more important than the reason they started it in the first place. See the last sentence in bold.
So, I'm curios to see if any of the sheep hunters here have given any other data. I have seen 5 rams sealed in Fairbanks and all they did was measure the horns. I also know of one other ram sealed in Fairbanks and is was the same deal. Six rams, 3 different gmu's, no bio data collected. What about you guys down south?
As a side note: I would like to see them get all the info they can from us if we're going to be talking to them. I just haven't seen or heard much of it happening. At least here in Fairbanks.
RATIONALE: Dall sheep have been subject to a statewide sealing program since 2004. The regulation was put in place largely for law enforcement purposes. All ewes and rams harvested in 14C drawing hunts were previously required to be brought in for a check-in process with
ADF&G; the statewide program expanded this effort to all rams harvested statewide in areas with horn restrictions. In 2004 and 2005 rams were marked with plastic seals. Since 2006, ram horns have been marked (above the core) with permanent plugs bearing unique identification numbers. Beginning in 2008, all rams taken in any-ram drawing areas will also be subject to sealing under discretionary permit conditions.
Very few rams harvested statewide are not sealed. These rams are from the limited any-sheep or any-ram hunts that take place. All sheep hunters are tracked via state harvest tickets, state permits, or federal permits. Of the rams harvested in 2006 under state permits and harvest tickets, only 39 (<5%) were taken in sealing-exempt areas. Even though not required, 13 of those hunters brought in their rams to the Department.
With the requirement to bring ram horns in for sealing, hunters must be confident of the legality of the animal prior to pulling the trigger. This has changed sheep hunter attitudes, and they are increasingly showing interest in the definition of full-curl, even though the same definition has been used in Alaska since the 1980s.
The hands-on approach has also allowed for the collection of important anecdotal information from sheep hunters - observations and data previously unavailable to biologists. By having a small pool of biologists, technicians, and law enforcement officers taking horn measurements and aging rams, the error in this data is reduced compared to having up to 900 different hunters collecting the data.
In addition to basic horn measurements, additional biological information can be collected at the time of sealing. Rams harvested from certain areas have already been subject to detailed measurements (horn length and circumference at each annulus), as well as raw Boone and Crockett scoring. Additionally, small flesh samples have been taken from these rams for development of a database from which genetic variability is being assessed via a cooperative research project.
With concerns about sheep health and population status statewide, ADF&G finds that the sealing program will provide useful biological information if conducted over the long term. Sealing is time consuming, and it is an expense to the Department. However, the benefits of consistent regulations, hunter contacts and hands-on data collection now outweigh our previous concerns. With a few more years of sheep sealing, the Department will be able to evaluate the efficacy of the data gathering program for wildlife management rather than law enforcement purposes