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.