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Thread: The Future of Dall sheep hunting in Alaska

  1. #1

    Default The Future of Dall sheep hunting in Alaska

    The Alaska Board of Game (BOG) has given us one more change to weigh in on how Alaska will mange Dall Sheep, thanks to board member Ron Somerville. At the Spring 2008 BOG meeting the board will again hear from the public, and the department what the biology behind the "any ram" science project in GMU 13D and 14A is. (The board also refused to deliberate on the subject again until 2011 after the Spring meeting.)

    Dall Sheep harvest across the state has fallen from around 1,500 sheep harvested/year to less then 900 since the full curl regulation, to limit the harvest of sheep on a sustained-yield bases, went into effect around 20 years a ago.

    What is the answer; permit sheep hunters across the state? In high hunter use areas? Limit non-resident hunters? Close sheep hunting opportunity until populations rebound? More predator control? Supplementary feeding during spring ice storms?

    I don't see where killing less then full curl rams to save the genetics for large horn growth will help increase over all sheep populations. Most Dall sheep populations don't occupy near the range they did 40 years ago. Yet trophy sheep are still being taken most years in the state.

    But at least the board has given all sheep hunters another change to ask politely if the board would vote to save Alaska's Dall sheep populations from further declines. Future permit sheep hunting conditions will depend on what hunters tell the board they want, more opportunity or larger trophy rams? Less hunters and more of an aesthetics experience or a good foot race for the trophy?

    Let the board know what you want to see done, hunters opinions do matter to them.

  2. #2
    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rod Arno View Post
    Future permit sheep hunting conditions will depend on what hunters tell the board they want, more opportunity or larger trophy rams? Less hunters and more of an aesthetics experience or a good foot race for the trophy?
    Do you see that as our only two choices? Permit only, statewide? That's what I've taken from the "tone" of your post. I'd personally rather have OPPORTUNITY statewide than trophy potential. More opportunity will lead to less pressure. If anyone needs to be "limited" I think we know who most of us would like to place limits on.

    BTW, what stance has the AOC taken? When and where are comments due? Is this another serial posting? Are you going to post and then not show up for the discussion? Just wondering.

    Tim

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    Default Great News!

    I for one would like to be included in any group or groups that we want to get together to talk about these issues before this meeting. What are the dates and where?

    In the latest issue of the Sportsman Voice (SFW magazine) has two articles about sheep management. One was written by ADCF&HM and the other by Wayne Heimer. Not sure how to post both of these articles, but once I figure it out, I will!.

    Here is a quote from the article from ADCF&HM (Bob Tobey, Becky Kellyhouse, and Tony Kavalok)

    "There are many reasons for declining sheep numbers across South-central Alaska, among them could be periodic deep snow, Chinook freeze/thaw events, and predation, most of which we cannot control. The one factor we can control however, is human harvest pressure.

    Troy

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    Quote Originally Posted by tv321 View Post
    "There are many reasons for declining sheep numbers across South-central Alaska, among them could be periodic deep snow, Chinook freeze/thaw events, and predation, most of which we cannot control. The one factor we can control however, is human harvest pressure.

    How are you gonna control the weather? How are you going to control predation (doesn't seem to be working for moose yet)? You can control human harvest, why the angry face?

    The first thing we need is more research to actually understand what is happening and that takes money, something the division of wildlife has very little of.

    I personally like how the sheep regulations are structured however I don't like the new draw areas because I think by adding draws it will increase the use of these areas. But I have no scientific opinion to back that up and I think the state doesn't have much either
    I choose to fly fish, not because its easy, but because its hard.

  5. #5

    Default Pot Stirring

    Ok Tim your point is well taken.

    1. AOC's first priority for Dall sheep management is that they remain healthy and abundant.
    2. That all sheep harvested by humans be within the sustained-yield limits of any available harvest surplus.
    3. That allocation of the harvest of sheep be consistent with state law and the interests of AOC members.
    AOC will hear from ADF&G, DNR, DOL, DPS on subjects like the new Dall sheep science project, anterless moose hunts in GMU 20A-B, enforcement of ORV allowable uses, plus other issues at their annual delegate meeting in Anchorage February 7th, evening, and all day Friday the 8th.

    AOC members and voting Club delegates will decide what AOC's position will be on a number of BOF and BOG proposals as well as current bills before the legislature. Come on down, join up and voice your opinion, information about the meetings can be found on the alaskaoutdoorcounical.org website.

    I read a select number of the post to get a feel for what some Alaskan hunters think about the subject. There are some experienced people who's postings are valuable insights to me.

    Thanks

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    Member tccak71's Avatar
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    Default Rod..

    Fair enough. I figured that as head of the AOC maybe you are just trying to get the information out and that is why you're hit/miss on the threads. It makes sense that you want to get a feel for what people think. When and where can we comment to the BOG?

    Tim

  7. #7

    Default Public comment on sheep management

    The BOG meets in Fairbanks Feb. 29th-March 10th. Public testimony sign up ends on Saturday March the 1st. I would imagine most written testimony sent in to Board Support by the 20th would be counted.
    ADF&G Board Support will have to rush out some public notice about reconsidering the biology behind the "any ram" harvests in GMU 13D and 14A. Stay tuned.

    If the full curl limitations on sheep harvests doesn't keep the herds from declining then it's time to look at a new sheep management plan, I'd say.

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    Thanks for the heads up.
    A gun is like a parachute. If you need one, and don’t have one, you’ll probably never need one again

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    Red face Sheep "problem"

    "There are many reasons for declining sheep numbers across South-central Alaska, among them could be periodic deep snow, Chinook freeze/thaw events, and predation, most of which we cannot control. The one factor we can control however, is human harvest pressure."

    Troy: I agree with your discouragement at ADFG wanting to control hunting pressure. First of all they only seem to support permit hunts which eliminate hunting opportunities. Second of all, the problem has not been studied and may not exist at all. For instance, while the overall number of sheep harvested has declined since 1990, the hunter success rate is stable and 2007 was the third highest success rate (35%) in the last 17 years! (As far back as I checked) The only problem then may be that there are fewer sheep hunters. Similarly, in the Kenais, where I live the sheep harvest is cut in half from the early 1990's, but the hunter success rate in 2007 is the fourth highest in the last 17 years! So again the only problem may be fewer hunters!

    We need to demand studies and not solutions to a problem which has not been demonstrated and may not exist!!!!
    “I come home with an honestly earned feeling that something good has taken place. It makes no difference whether I got anything, it has to do with how the day was spent. “ Fred Bear

  10. #10

    Default HB265 kind of on topic with this thread

    resident first? resident allocation? not looking good.......residents don't contribute enough to the economy. SFW/APHA and the BOG intend to turn Alaska into a game farm. imo

    There was a hearing today on HB 265

    This bill is about more than just predator control.........
    http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/g...=25&bill=HB256

    Read the bill and compare the language with the predator booklet put just last month the department.

    http://www.wildlife.alaska.gov/manag...or_booklet.pdf

    Listening http://www.ktoo.org/gavel/audio.cfm to the discussion on the governors legislation hb256

    Don't miss Scott Ogans representations as the official voice of the Alaska Chapter of Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife..http://www.sfwalaska.org/

    some clues....Sheep are left out of HB267 and wont be considering them as game providing for a high level of human harvest

    "The Board of Game shall identify......and shall establish the objectives for human harvest" .........one allocation..........all hunter demand....most beneficial

    There is another hearing on Friday.


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    Default Sheep management in the Chugach Mountains.

    Here are the two articles that are in the current issue of the Sportsmen's Voice. Both address the issue on management styles being used within the Chugach Mountains (13D and 14A). One is written by ADFG and the other by FNAWS. Take a read and then post your opinions.

    I have issues with two comments that where written by ADFG.

    “There are many reasons for declining sheep numbers across South-central Alaska, among them could be periodic deep snow, Chinook freeze/thaw events, and predation, most of which we cannot control. The one factor we can control however is human harvest pressure”.

    If not ADFG who is to control predation? In fact, they are paid to do so and they are not! I believe the last resort should be to manage humans.

    “While many hunters are concerned with overflow into other areas, the fact is that sheep hunting pressure is starting to decline statewide due to dramatic declines in sheep numbers in some areas, meaning that many hunters and residents in particular, have already hung up their rifles”

    ADFG wrote this! I wouldn’t brag about this too much since this just shows how their management programs are a failure.
    Last edited by tv321; 10-15-2009 at 21:39.

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    Default last page

    last page.
    Last edited by tv321; 10-15-2009 at 21:39.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Interesting reading. Seems strange that AKFNAWS couldn't make it to the BOG meeting where one of the most important sheep proposals in recent times was addressed.

    Hard to expect AOC to carry the water on this proposal. They're likely to save their firepower for issues that are more important to the general AOC membership and are unlikely to fall on their sword for a group as small as AKFNAWS.

    TV, in regard to predator control ADF&G can only implement the programs that the politcians (BOG and legislature) have told them to implement. The current predator control efforts are directed at boosting moose and caribou numbers. ADF&G doesn't have the authority to implement programs without direction from the BOG or legislature. There are so few sheep hunters relative to moose and caribou hunters that it is unlikely we will see a predator control program designed specifically to benefit sheep. Furthermore most of Alaska's sheep are on federal lands where predator control is unlikely to occur.

    I think your dislike of ADF&G has really hurt your objectivity and understanding on some of these issues. As a newly minted AC member an open mind will greatly enhance your learning and contribution to the regulatory process.

    Good luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by tv321 View Post

    If not ADFG who is to control predation? In fact, they are paid to do so and they are not! I believe the last resort should be to manage humans.
    I would argue that it is hunters' responsibility to control predation first, with state support later if needed. As Chisana noted, they can't just load up the plane with a few bios and go out to shoot some predators. You and I can, however, head into the mountains outside of sheep season and target predators. I've taken a wolf in the area that I hunt sheep and have tried to target a few others. I'll be back at it again this year. Just like I don't expect the government to pay my bills for me, I likewise can't always expect F&G to keep my hunting conditions perfectly ideal. I need to do my part as well. This reminds me of the folks who complain about failing Susitna salmon runs, but who aren't willing to trap beavers or target pike.

    Have you been out wolf hunting in the area you target sheep lately? Any plans to do so?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Chisana View Post
    I think your dislike of ADF&G has really hurt your objectivity and understanding on some of these issues. As a newly minted AC member an open mind will greatly enhance your learning and contribution to the regulatory process.

    Good luck.


    I have mentioned before (and many of your have also) that have a lot to learn. I agree, and I am learning more and more each day.

    I have never stated I dislike ADF&G. I have stated several times that I do not agree with the way the upper managers manage wildlife. Am I a wildlife life manager, NO! Am I a biologist, NO! The fact is I don’t have to have either of these degrees to post my opinion that they are doing a poor job on managing our resources. They are using the custodial management style which I disagree with.

    Troy

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian M View Post
    I would argue that it is hunters' responsibility to control predation first, with state support later if needed.
    Agreed! We don't do enough. I wish I had a plan to get more of us into sheep country in the winter and take out the coyotes, but I don’t. I don’t do my part, but hopefully soon!

    So since we are not doing our part then shouldn't ADFG do theirs? They have all the tools they need to manage predators effectively. They have taken out some of the wolves in unit 16 and the numbers are improving, but they haven't done much towards the real problem, bears. This is why groups like SFW are needed. They will spend both time and money to address these types of issues.

    To tell you the truth where I hunt sheep predation is not a problem, so the answer to your question is No I haven't when predator hunting where I sheep hunt.

    Troy

  17. #17

    Default other predators

    There is one predator that isn't mentioned that is noted for its predation on lambs and that is golden eagles and even now bald eagles. I would like to see some studies done on this as some of the people that I know that are in the lambing grounds think they may be a big factor in low lamb #'s.

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    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    This study is about 10 years old, but does look at golden eagles. They certainly take lambs. I found the tiniest little lamb skeleton in the Brooks a couple of years ago that appeared to have been killed by an eagle. Wolverines take a few as well. Had one chase a ewe and two lambs right above our camp in the Chugach.

    http://www.wc.adfg.state.ak.us/pubs/...dfs/99-613.pdf

  19. #19

    Default

    I was out checking my trapline today and I started thinking about this sheep stuff, and I am sickened by it. The politics involved with this "drawing" and "any ram" stuff is nauseating. The Board of Game, through the public process, decided to adopt the ADF&G written drawing proposal last March. Then Heimer insisted upon an agenda change request to reconsider the proposal and the Board voted unanimoiusly not to reconsider it. End of story you would think. But no, it is not then end of the story. Certain organizations out there started a whinefest, calling the governers office, threatening lawsuits and even slandering biologists.

    Then a shotty deal was made between an outgoing Board member and a behind the scenes handshake took place. The handshake involved bringing up the idea of looking at the any ram idea a third time. With more politiking, the Board decided to readdress the any ram issue in Fairbanks in March. Nevermind the fact that Fairbanks is over 300 miles from the area in issue, and that it is going to be a serious burden for the people who are most familiar with the area to provide oral testimony. In this agreement to readress the any ram thing this March, it was decided that the "any ram" idea cannot be addressed again until 2011. This handshake single handedly took away everyones right (this includes your right) to address the Board of Game of what you think in 2009. That is FNAWS working for you right there. I bet you members are happy parts of your dues were used to support this bathroom deal handshaking. Oh yeah, parts of your dues were also used to lobby the governors office to get Ted Spraker (arguably the best Board member for people like us) NOT reappointed to the Board. Not because he is a stand up great guy who sees things objectively, but because Heimer saw him as an obstacle in getting what he wants.

    This any ram thing is a benign regulation. I could not care one way or the other (because it is benign). The only thing people can possibly gripe about is that a few less permits might be issued because success rates might be higher under any ram. As an avid sheep hunter, I am not getting my panties in a bundle over the any ram idea. Since there are no biological concerns with harvesting any ram under a controlled permit system, in theory, all it is going to go is give the big rams a little better chance of living. I do not know about you, but as an avid sheep hunter who prefers to shoot big mature rams, this is perfect. Joe blow is going to shoot a 7/8 curler and be absolutely jazzed, and I am going to hunt further and harder and get the big boy in the back of the valley. All the while, the taking of these two sheep do not have a negative impact on the biology of the population. Does this scenario sound unreasonable to you? What harm is this doing? There are other obvious advantages for an experieced and the novice sheep hunter under this system.

    The bottom line is this drawing area and any ram idea is not worth discussing again and out of sequence, and probably should not be dicussed in Fairbanks. It has become a personal fued between Wayne Heimer and those who do not think the way he does, and we are all paying the costs. It is absolutely ridiculous and it undermines the "normal" Board process.

    It would of been better to just let the drawing go as originally passed, see what happens in two years, and discuss it in Anchorage in 2009. That would been logical. This current deal is absolutely stupid, and it is obvious who to blame.
    Life is short........spend it wisely and hunt sheep.

  20. #20

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by hawgquest View Post
    This current deal is absolutely stupid, and it is obvious who to blame.
    IMO
    I don't think it is just FNAWs interfering here and the interference is not limited to the Board of Game.

    The Alaska Chapter of Sportsman For Fish and Wildlife has been very busy the last 3/4 months meeting with the commissioner, the department level heads, the governors, members of the Legislative Outdoor caucus, and the board of game.

    This is all going on with the knowledge and with collaboration by the leadership of board members of the SFW coalition.......AOC, APHA, Alaskans for Professional Wildlife Management, FNAWs....umm probably missing some group that is not representing the commercial hunting industry wanting to turn Alaska into a game farm for out of state hunters; maybe someone else will think who else is representing commercial hunters but not representing resident hunters.

    Anyway...........

    Sportsman for Fish and Wildlife and their coalition managed to persuade the department of law to exclude sheep from the active management predator bill; and they have been advocating and meeting with the governors office and dnr to fast track huge exclusive guide lease areas in unit 13/14

    http://www.legis.state.ak.us/basis/g...56A&session=25

    There can be no doubt that there is a full on organized campaign to manipulate sheep hunting.

    Wayne just can not do all this on his own.

    I can not yet see how it all fits; or have time to figure it out......but something is for sure going on; and it stinks.

    Wouldn't it be interesting to know who is meeting with who and what the discussions are about and be provided the written communications so far related to what Scott Ogan and others have had regarding sheep/the active management bill.

    And the purpose of the new bill now dealing with "members" on the board of game and the exit of Ted Spraker?

    Open and transparent government? Maybe it is if you ask the right questions and request the right documents?

    Who is going to replace Ted Spraker? Scott Ogan?


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