I just got done with our advisory committee meeting. I didn't/haven't paid much attention to recent proposals involving sheep. I read through proposals that were submitted by guides and others. Here are some area of concerns that us resident hunters better pay attention to if you want to hunt in the future.
First of all let's throw some facts out on sheep. It is a FACT that sheep populations are down across the state of Alaska. This was a derived from biologists and fellow hunters who are involved with sheep and have seen this from first hand experience.
What we are seeing are proposals that want more "drawing" areas. What does this lead us to? What will happen is dividing up the state into drawing areas that will ultimately lead to severe restrictions in resident sheep hunting. What do these drawing areas do? They allow the guide to have as many clients to put in for these draws, ultimately short changing the resident hunters. I am specifically refering to a proposal from a guide that affects the 13D area and some other units. Do us resident hunters see how that hurts us? The draw doesn't hurt a guide at all because he will get new hunters each and every year.
Now the second problem is the "one in four" rule. This is really a BAD thing for resident hunters. We will be the one that is limited to sheep hunting one in every four if we get a sheep. This DOES NOT stop the guide from booking the same amount of hunts each and every year, which does not affect his hunting at all. So, for those of you residents that think this is okay, you are shooting yourself in the foot. Once this happens it will happen across the state, so us do it yourself every year sheep hunters will be screwed, but the guides that are shooting/overharvesting the sheep in certain areas will continue to harvest at the same rate, not being hurt at all by these regulations.
It is a FACT that guides are way more efficient at harvesting sheep and are the ones that are harvesting the larger sheep. They are complaining about a lack of "big" sheep and want restrictions. Well here is what I recommend and hope that everyone will make their comments heard to the BOG.
In areas that biologist feel the sheep may need some help. Create areas that will be drawing permit for NON-RESIDENTS only. Limit the amount of non-resident drawing permits to 10% of the annual harvest of that unit. These non-resident drawing areas have no effect on resident sheep hunters as resident hunters will still be able to hunt these areas with the full curl regulations.
Ultimately, make a 10% rule across the state. Non-residents can have an annual harvest of 10% of the current sheep harvest. This will allow everyone a fair shake.
If you read what the guides want, they realize that the "one in every four rule" benefits them if there continue to be "no limit" for the # of sheep they are harvesting. Their clients aren't repeat, so they won't be affected by the one in every four, only residents will be hurt by it.
The final issue I see is this: when game populations are declining, the first obligation of the state is to it's residents. Non-residents have to feel the squeeze before residents. If it is an important enough issue, non-residents need to be limited by drawing/a limited percent of harvest/or by being not allowed to hunt in areas designated by the state. Another solution could be to close the units totally to hunting for a year or two if needed.
The states main focus shoud be on resident hunters first. This is stated in the constitution. We must NOT stand by and see drawing restrictions and one in every four rules put on us residents because those ultimately are way more detrimental to resident sheep hunters.
I hope all of you will chime in and show the BOG that more drawing areas and one in every four rules are not the answer.
Now for the onslaught!