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Thread: Resident sheep hunter preference? Proposal 16 review

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Resident sheep hunter preference? Proposal 16 review

    Been wanting to post on the failure of Proposal 16 at last Board of Game meeting that asked for a five-day earlier opening to sheep hunting in Region III for Alaska residents.

    I was pretty flabbergasted with the comments made by a number of guides who testified against it, as well as the testimony from the Alaska chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation representative, Pete Buist. In that every other western state that has sheep has a clear resident preference, yet it is implied that Alaska should somehow not do the same.

    The Alaska chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation also sent in written comments on Prop 16, which are #79 in the Public Record if anyone wants to review those. In those written comments they acknowledge that the person who wrote prop 16 is a Life Member of WSF. Those comments close with this: "The Foundation also notes that if Proposal #16 eventually restricts nonresident hunters (as we argue it will given there is not a sufficient surplus of mature rams for harvest throughout Region III to absorb the increased hunter pressure we project) the Board will have enforced a de facto "Tier I" approach to the allocation of Dall sheep harvest opportunities in Region III for a species purposefully excluded from Alaska's subsistence law when it was passed. We don't even want to think about the problems associated with such an action.

    The Alaska Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation recommends against passage of Proposal #16 and for a more coordinated statewide approach to Dall sheep management than presently exists." [their emphasis]

    Here is Pete Buist's testimony at the BOG meeting, any bolded portions are my emphasis:
    "Good morning Mr Chairman, Board members, my name is Pete Buist, I’m testifying for the Alaska chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. We’re a statewide conservation group with an intense interest in dall sheep conservation and hunting.

    Proposal number 16 would add five days to the sheep hunting season across Region III by allowing resident hunters to begin hunting on Aug 5th and non-resident hunters to begin hunting on Aug 12th. We would recommend you do not pass this change.

    Proposal 16 would open the season for Alaska residents only in Region III five days earlier than for nonresidents. This early opening can reasonably be expected to focus increased resident hunting pressure on Region III. As a matter of principle we can’t agree that increasing harvest opportunity is a good idea when Dall sheep populations are already depressed and legal rams are correspondingly scarce. Simply put, we do not support a lengthened season on a struggling resource.

    Compared to recorded history, dall sheep populations are thought to be down by as much as 40 to 50% across Region III. Inviting more resident hunting pressure in to this already heavily harvested area does not seem to be in the better interest of sheep populations. Season length issue is particularly important in the Brooks Range where the five day increase in open season actually amounts to a very significant 20% increase in functional season length. Historically weather closes the sheep season in the Brooks Range early, often prior to Sept 5th. This means the present season length in the Brooks Range is really only from Aug 10 to Sept 5. This change would be an increase from 25 days to 30 days, or an increase of 20% in season length for residents, along with a loss of two days or almost 10% for nonresidents.

    If more resident hunters are attracted to the Brooks Range, already competitively harvested populations will face more pressure for a longer period of time. Given that there aren’t a lot of full curl rams going to waste in Region III, it’s reasonable to presume that success by early resident hunters will effectively take rams away from those who must hunt later in the season. Nonresident sheep hunters would be disadvantaged by hunting after many rams have been harvested by residents. If the existing equality of opportunity is disturbed to discriminate against nonresidents, it seems likely the revenue generated by nonresident Dall ram hunting in Region III will decline. Because nonresident Dall sheep revenues have always been a major source of dollars for Pittman-Robertson matching funds, action further decreasing nonresident license and tag sales does not seem to be good for Dall sheep conservation or the Department’s budget.

    Even though sheep harvests have declined, the percentages harvested by residents and non-residents remain about the same, roughly 60:40 in favor of residents. Although resident hunters traditionally see themselves as disadvantaged compared to nonresidents, residents typically overlook the cost, season length, and proximity advantages they enjoy by living here. Although we do not presently have the resources to accurately predict the revenue losses from nonresident license and tag sales, we suggest the Board not accept this proposal until our differences with the assertions of proposal 16 have been thoroughly investigated. While we are sympathetic to the feelings of our members who are resident sheep hunters, we urge the Board to be cautious in restricting nonresident hunters via this oblique mechanism."

    End of Testimony - Questions from the Board

    Sager-Albaugh: "Pete did your organization discuss the possibility of a regulation, talking about proposal 16, a proposal similar to that that would apply on a statewide basis, did you discuss that and talk about whether or not that would be something the group would support?"

    Buist: "No we looked at the way it was written here and dealt with this rather than statewide, and I probably shouldn’t speculate on what we would think, but if I had to, I’d say that most of the arguments would be the same."

    Sager-Albaugh: "Well I understand that there’d be a lot of considerations for instance the health of the sheep population differs from area to area, so I understand that would be a consideration. I guess I’m trying to determine what the general philosophical feeling of the group is on providing greater opportunity for residents over nonresidents in sheep hunting.

    Buist: "We just didn’t look at it that way, I’m sorry." [note the non-answer there]

    Sager-Albaugh: "That’s fine if you didn’t, thank you."

    Hoffman: "Pete, in your testimony you referred to a, um, just want some clarification on your statement about rams going to waste in Region III, can you touch on that a little?"

    Buist: "The point was, even though the choice of words may not have been terrific, is…it’s getting harder and harder to go to the hills and find a full curl ram. It’s not that there’s a terrible surplus of them in the places where we can still hunt. And our thought on this was this would put more pressure on that already somewhat limited resource."

    End of Q & A from the Board

    Okay, with all due respect to Pete, does anyone else see a problem here? I mean, what other state allows nonresidents to take 40% of that state's sheep harvests annually? And how can any Alaskan org not support a clear resident preference, especially after admitting sheep population are down and there is not "a terrible surplus of them in the places we can still hunt"?

    And this thing in his comments that us residents "typically overlook the cost, season length, and proximity advantages" we enjoy by living here...well I frankly found that offensive when I heard it in person at the meeting, and even more offensive when I transcribed it. Sure we don't have to hire a guide to hunt sheep, but just by living here we absorb much higher costs of living than do nonresidents, the cold and the dark, and there really isn't much of a proximity advantage for the resident hunter who lives on the chain, or southeast Alaska...as far as cost of getting to the Brooks Range. And as far as season length...he is arguing against residents even having a longer season length.

    As for the revenue argument, I don't buy that if we limited non-res opportunity more that the reductions in license and tag sales are going to seriously be affected, because for one, if the Guide Concession Program pans out, as APHA has stated publicly it would "significantly reduce" the number of guides operating on state lands, which would ostensibly also reduce the number of nonresident sheep clients...and for two the Board of Game has said that if the GCP doesn't go through they are looking at possibly limiting all nonresident opportunity by capping it as other western states do at 10-15% of available opportunities for species like sheep. And for three, all license and tag fees need to be raised imo, and residents need to pay more in order to prevent this kind of logic/rhetoric from taking hold.

    Anyway, shouldn't rant, but I've been troubled by what's going on with our sheep hunting opportunities and I just wasn't happy with the strong opposition to the idea of Proposal 16, the position taken by the WSF Alaska chapter, and the many guides who testified.

    Would like to hear ideas about how we can get Alaska hunting orgs/chapters to support a resident sheep hunting preference, as is outlined in our state constitution and is the norm in every other western state. And what solutions there may be to effectively and fairly limit nonresident sheep hunting opportunity...not because I or anyone else doesn't want our non-res brethren to come to Alaska to hunt sheep, but because it really is the right thing to do, and sooner rather than later imo before more areas go to draw only.

    Oh, the "subsistence" law mentioned in the WSF written comments is, I take it, referring to Intensive Management law, and even though sheep were not included as species to be intensively managed for high levels of harvest for human consumption, that in no way means or meant that we do not/should not have a clear resident priority for sheep hunting.

    Cheers,

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    Default Do Guides...

    always seem to work against residents? Tony Russ in his sheep hunting book always railed 'gainst the "meat hunter" assailing them for not lookin' at the "trophy" that the "meat hunter" took. "Trophies" goin' to "waste"...

    & Notice the protracted effort by Pete to pique the interest of the BOG by mentioning "funds"...

    Using & injecting the "Subsistence" word is VERY telling...

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    The real problem is Apathy. Most of the resident hunter base is fairly apathetic to the process. They see new regs and flip out and rant and rave but they weren't there to see just how it happened. The sad fact is there are outside orgs that spend more time and energy and have more interest in controlling our resource and our opportunity than we do.

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    Thanks for the info Mark. Yes, I definately see a huge problem. Though, I cannot say I'm surprised at the stance WSF took. A good portion of the membership are guides and outfitters and it's non-residents, for the most part, that book hunts with them. I'm not trying to unfairly criticise guides, it's understandable they would not want to restrict or curtail non-resident hunting because that's how they make a living. However, some of the orgs that represent trade groups as well as average hunters and conservationists always seem to favor the commercial side over the $30 bucks a month membership people. I agree with you on Buist's statement regarding revenue. It will have zero effect on revenue generated for Pittman-Robertson, and the arguement is ridiculous and offensive. A resident preference will definately have an impact on the revenue stream of some of their membership though. He should have been more honest and stated that some of the outfitters will lose money if a resident preference passes and that's why they oppose it.
    I agree with luJon also. Apathy is the largest factor after money. For the most part the average joe hunter does nothing to contribute to process that decides their fate. They buy a license and complain about the things they disagree with. That's it.
    I'm not sure how to get some of the orgs to support a resident preference. Most of the single issue groups like WSF seem to represent outfitters and guides disproportionality to average members. They also have zero motivation to support non-members, which is the vast majority of resident hunters.
    Perhaps AKBHA should push a new proposal to the BOG which either caps non-resident hunters to 10-15 percent of total tags, or somehow provides for a resident preference in some other way. I would definately support that.

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    AE: Last time someone tried to put in cap the good ole boys at the BOG turned it into an allotment! That is a stone cold fact, it went from "not more than 10% of the tags may go to non-res" as proposed to "10% of the tags go to non res" as passed!!!

    Talk about getting shot in the back with your own sheep gun! I believe Troy put that prop in, I would love to hear his response to what went down!

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    Member AlpineEarl's Avatar
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    I don't like the allotment idea much right now but i may be open to the idea if it would place a reasonable cap at 10% or so. It would be a vast improvement over the 40% they seem to be getting now. That would surely mean more tags for residents. I'm sure there would be a whole bunch of objections from outsiders and some of the guide industry. I guess WSF would object too.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlpineEarl View Post
    I don't like the allotment idea much right now but i may be open to the idea if it would place a reasonable cap at 10% or so. It would be a vast improvement over the 40% they seem to be getting now. That would surely mean more tags for residents. I'm sure there would be a whole bunch of objections from outsiders and some of the guide industry. I guess WSF would object too.
    The sheep harvest quotes regarding the 60/40 percentages I believe are predominantly in harvest areas so it is not a measure of opportunity but rather success. Simply put for 14-20K a guide will put in plenty of preseason effort and know where legal sheep will be then take you there and find one. Most resident hunters don't have this opportunity, even if they fly out they generally pick a place and the transporter takes them there. From the point they arrive it is up to them to guess where the sheep will be and walk there.

    I have seen props to limit non res tags to a smaller percentage of the average annual harvest but I imagine that would be hard to implement. They could make the whole state a non res limited draw while keeping it as an over the counter hunt for Residents which I would support though it would certainly be expensive and add additional work to ADF&G. The early res season would have been by far the easiest to implement!

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    kind of curious whats up with this thread mark? how come this comes out now? what were the AKbha comments on toms Prop? i don't think any one other then a few sheep hunters supported it. though it is the second time it has been to the BOG with this proposal... and failed the first time as well.. (in a roundabout way i agree) but this time there was little to no support anywhere that i seen... and Tom had an up hill battle from there to the end.
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  9. #9

    Default I personally

    am in support of a cap on non-resident sheep hunting. It really is a shame that non-residents are treated "on par" with residents when it comes to sheep. I also have to concur that we are the ones "living" here year round and we DO incur the costs of what it takes to live in AK year round. Would like to see more proposals similar to this in the next round. Most certainly the guides have had their say. Time for us "resident's" to step up and demand some fairness.

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    buist is being pushed for the vacancy on the BOG since barratte was rejected.
    it is important to note that the next appointee will sit through 2 board cycles before the legislature gets a chance to confirm or reject them.
    since sheep issues are often at the forefront of BOG meetings, i think it is good for mark to bring up buists comments.
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  11. #11

    Wink

    I too am sensing an underlying reason for this coming up, now. I think someone has a bone to pick, and wants to discredit them. Someone really needs to do some homework and see just who is largely responsible for making sure there are sheep to hunt. It ain't you, me or anyone reading this. It is the people dedicated to the principles of managing wild sheep. Bottom line is that wolf predation is the greatest problem, so if anyone wants to truly make a difference, attack the wolves and not individuals or organizations they speak for.
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    Quote Originally Posted by homerdave View Post
    buist is being pushed for the vacancy on the BOG since barratte was rejected.
    it is important to note that the next appointee will sit through 2 board cycles before the legislature gets a chance to confirm or reject them.
    since sheep issues are often at the forefront of BOG meetings, i think it is good for mark to bring up buists comments.
    homer,
    We were typing at the same time. Much as I suspected, it was a vendetta. How sick is this? Geeeez. It is characteristic of what I have seen played out many times on this forum. Personal vendetta's and clandestine/overt attacks on individuals? It is low down imo and not the way to vette a potential spokesman for sportsmen.
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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Vince
    kind of curious whats up with this thread mark? how come this comes out now? what were the AKbha comments on toms Prop
    Been wanting to post on this ever since the BOG meeting, but got busy with other things and didn't get around to transcribing the audio til the other day, which is always a pain to do. (Doesn't have anything to do with Pete Buist being considered for BOG seat)

    There was support for Tom's proposal in the public testimony, but as you know it's hard to get hunters to show up at BOG meetings and speak, and that support was heavily outweighed by the # of guides who spoke against it, and other orgs that opposed it.

    Here's the comments AK BHA sent in on prop 16:

    Alaska Backcountry Hunters & Anglers comments - PC 1
    Proposal 16 – 5AAC 85.055 Hunting seasons and bag limits for Dall sheep

    SUPPORT

    A similar proposal has been introduced before, and as stated was initially passed by the Board but then later rejected. The “why” as to why it was rejected seems to center around the enormous clout and influence of the guide industry in Alaska, that at times puts non-resident hunter interests ahead of Alaskan resident hunter interests.

    Please consider this comment from the executive director of the Alaska Professional Hunters Association, that claims to be “the voice” of the guide industry in Alaska: “Currently, overcrowding of guides on State lands combined with decreasing wildlife populations is stimulating social disorder between hunter user groups and biological harm to our wildlife which leads to establishment of the restrictive drawing permit hunts.”

    We see no valid reason, considering the known problems we currently have with overcrowding of guides on state lands, and the conflicts that is causing between guides/guided hunters and resident hunters, that the Board would continue to oppose giving resident sheep hunters a reasonable preference to get into the field first.

    Resident sheep hunters typically don’t have the same high success rates as guided hunters. So the notion that an earlier resident-only sheep season is going to diminish the resource to where guided hunters aren’t as successful doesn’t really add up. And if it were true, that resident hunters would take enough sheep during the earlier season to actually drop non-resident hunter success rates dramatically…then perhaps that speaks more to capping all non-resident sheep hunting opportunities to a certain level, as so many other states do, in order to provide a clear resident hunting preference.

    We want to make it clear that we fully support non-resident hunting opportunities in Alaska, and want to see those opportunities continue. We also fully support the guiding occupation and have an enormous amount of respect for the work and services that guides provide. We are also cognizant of the wildlife management funding that non-resident hunter licenses and tags provides. But non-resident hunting opportunities and guiding opportunities should not come at such a great cost to resident hunting opportunities and a quality hunt experience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Akres View Post
    I too am sensing an underlying reason for this coming up, now. I think someone has a bone to pick, and wants to discredit them. Someone really needs to do some homework and see just who is largely responsible for making sure there are sheep to hunt. It ain't you, me or anyone reading this. It is the people dedicated to the principles of managing wild sheep. Bottom line is that wolf predation is the greatest problem, so if anyone wants to truly make a difference, attack the wolves and not individuals or organizations they speak for.
    Wolves certainly are predatory on sheep and will take what they can get. That said the studies I have read show that Coyotes and Golden eagles are the primary cause of low lamb recruitment. If we are going to target a predator specifically to improve sheep populations then wouldn't it seem reasonable to target the ones that are taking the most sheep? It would seem feasible to use resources to target coyote populations in the areas near lambing grounds during the winter. I don't know what laws would need to be worked through but since Golden eagles tend to reuse old nests it may be feasible to remove some nests near prime lambing areas as well.

    I would love to see some studies on both of these options. It would seem that doing them in the Chugach would be the most cost effective. I would like to see several mortality studies done before/after. I would also like to see a study regarding how far from the nest eagles tend to hunt when nested. Do they generally feed their young from within a mile of the nest or 2 or 3. I would also like to see the black bear harvest increased from 1 to 3 tags for some areas of 14C. Namely the hunter creek/lake george, upper Eklutna, pioneer peak, and 20mile. I have been in the hunter creek drainage on numerous occasions and have seen black bears following the ewe/lamb groups around many times. I have little doubt that they wouldn't do that if it wasn't "profitable".

    These steps and implementing a more resident preferenced management structure would certainly put us on track to increase overall opportunity IMHO.

  15. #15

    Default How do we manage sheep?

    I haven't heard of fish & game doing anything to manage sheep except do surveys and change open areas to drawing permits! And even the surveys are not the best. There to my knowledge has been NO predator control specifically benefiting sheep done! One of my fellow AC members did a lot of research/asking into being able to do some "eagle" control but with all the federal crap that comes with it, I think that is a dead issue. Bottom line, there really is "no" active predator control going on to "help" sheep. I still think that residents should obviously have an advantage when it comes to hunting in our own state!!!

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    Member Vince's Avatar
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    I was just haveing a sheep conversation yesterday... when they crashed in the early 90's they did it state wide not by region like the caribou do... there must be more to it then just predator issues.
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    Non-residents on par with residents?
    That's pretty funny. Other states don't force non-res hunters to have a guide the way the AK does, ultimately costing guys 10's of thousands of dollars..
    Oh yeah...those NR hunters are all rich! lol.
    Ultimately the state refuses to really price the resource where it should be for residents and non-residents... Too much whining.
    Nose...spite ....face....
    Ak should go to draw for most non-res sheep hunts and price them high. $1000+ for tags.

    And residents should pay $200 plus for those tags too...native or non-native.
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    Quote Originally Posted by fullkurl View Post
    Ultimately the state refuses to really price the resource where it should be for residents and residents...

    Ak should go to draw for most non-res sheep hunts and price them high. $1000+ for tags.

    And residents should pay $200 plus for those tags too...native or non-native.
    i'm gonna agree with fullcurl here... might be a first
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    fullcurl you might be right! i know one thing if AK goes to a draw for sheep, or 1000 dollar tags it will send a bunch of those terrible non residents our way!

    be interesting to see if your resident harvest goes up much if you cut out some non res. tags, i bet it wont.

  20. #20

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    Until the general hunting community comes to the realization that predator reduction, habitat enhancement and "modern" technology are not substitutes for the application of basic hunting principles, little change in opportunity is going to be realized regardless of how many golden eagles or coyotes "bite the dust" (or how smooth a ride that four wheeler provides).
    Joe (Ak)

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