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Thread: Fortymile Final Solution

  1. #1

    Default Fortymile Final Solution

    Ladies and gentlemen,

    Stumbled across this article:

    http://www.news-miner.com/Stories/0,...320063,00.html

    and was looking for comments or opposing viewpoints. It seems Mr. Richards has a firm handle on the issue. Is he full of it, or right on?

    Chuck

  2. #2

    Default

    Full of it.

  3. #3
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    Thumbs down

    I agree, full of it.

  4. #4

    Default How so?

    Thank you for the quick replies, gents.

    Why is he full of it?

    Chuck

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    Default for sure

    He's right on ... NOT! Definitely full of it!

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    Default sounds like paul joslin

    they always claim to be fellow hunters

  7. #7
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    Default Predator control

    Obviously Mark frequently shares his views on this site and is good at holding fish and game accountable. He brings up valid questions. One question is: has anyone ever read that Grizzlies are a significant predator of Caribou? But one factor he doesn’t consider is increasing the caribou herds size doesn’t necessarily have to increase numbers of hunters..it could just increase success rates. In this way environmental effects would remain the same despite the increased harvest which would be a successful F and G program right?

  8. #8

    Default forty mile

    Interesting article.I do agree that since the days of 4 wheel drive 4 wheelers and 6 wheelers we have all been able to expand to new country that was not avaliable 25 years ago. Remember the days of putting a moose on a honda big red three wheeler! Seems like you spent more time under it then on top. The new vehicles have been good as they have allowed us to now spread out and hunt further away from each other where as before the few trail areas were packed. What is unknown is how the hunting has truly impacted the herds. Granted less animals are taken from small areas but what is the total impact on the whole area? Fish and game did a great job this last season by adjusting the sub areas when the animals were to conregated close to the road. As far as the predators go i ask one question and that is what is so different in the last ten years then in the last 25. Has there been a dramatic increase in the fertility of wolves and bears? This question has not really been proven. It would appear that bears and wolves have been chosen to be a scape goat due to some other problem. I truly believ in culling the wolves and bears the problem i have with it is that somthing else is driving the moose and caribou levels down. What is it? It would not seem to be habitat building as we have not had a significant road built in many years. Could it be increased hunting pressure? Maybe. Could it be increase gps technology that allows people to go further and to lock in animals? maybe Could it be better equipment and items that allow us to travel lighter and further? maybe Could it be large atvs that allow us to hunt further and safer? maybe Could it be a true combination of all the items that i wrote? Probably!
    Culling wolves bears will assist but it is a combination of many things like the ones i wrote that is contributing to the decreasing numbers. Is the state of Alaska at least looking at trying to solve the problems i think so. Will they be successful? only time will tell. i hate regulations and stipulations like most Alaskans, that is one reason i came up here, but until we can take the core group of hunters and find ways to spread them further out the the accessable areas will see over use and decline. Look at all the variables i wrote and it is amazing that we have any animals left to hunt! Just my thoughts Viktor

  9. #9

    Default More Info?

    Not pressing, (ok, yes I am)

    I'd like to hear more from the folks who say the author is full up with it. I'm curious as to the differentiation in viewpoints, and would appreciate greatly your assisting me in understanding the issue at hand.

    Thanks for the posts so far!

    Chuck

  10. #10
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by sh
    they always claim to be fellow hunters
    Quote Originally Posted by Truenorthed
    He's right on ... NOT! Definitely full of it!
    Quote Originally Posted by Anthony
    I agree, full of it.
    Wow. I don't even know where to start. First of all, in response to sh, your assumption that Mark Richards just wants to "claim" to be a hunter is incredibly misguided. Mr. Richards is a member of this forum and has spent many years living a rural lifestyle where he hunts to provide food for his family. This is something many of us do, but in Mark's case he does not live in any village, but instead mainly relies on the game he hunts to provide nutrition. Does this make his some expert on the issue? Well, that could be debated...but he is certainly not some pseudo-hunter claiming to be something he is not. It's pretty easy to make such uninformed assumptions, but a simple Google search for his name would have painted a very different picture for you.

    For the rest of you who claim that Mark is "full of it", I certainly respect your opinion and your engagement in this dialogue, but I also noticed that very little was offered in the way of support for your analysis. Why is he wrong?

    I've never met Mark personally, but I have corresponded with him a bit through these forums and I've read many of his posts on these forums. One thing that is absolutely beyond question is that Mark is a man of research and study. While it's easy to support ones views with baseless opinion, Mark always goes the extra mile to track down and read the ADF&G studies, action plans, etc. He is incredibly well read on topics of wildlife management and ecology, and has a great grasp of ecodynamics. I say this not to suggest that you should agree with him on every issue, but to suggest that there's more to this than him just being "full of it" as though he's some uninformed activist living in Berkley who is concerned about the poor little wolves.

    We've done this topic before, so I'm not sure if we need to rehash everything... but when one makes such a blanket assessment of a person, the least they could do is offer the reasoning behind their statement.

    -Brian

  11. #11
    Member martentrapper's Avatar
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    Default

    Neither! I also disagree that Mr. Richards has a firm handle on the issue. He raises legitimate concerns. Unfortunately, his piece doesn't discuss the benefits of the plan.
    Anyone familiar with the past 2 years of pred control should easily realize the goals set by these programs are difficult to reach. I don't think a reasonable person can honestly believe these goals will come anywhere near being met.
    Raising the number of caribou in the 40 mile herd will definately raise the number of hunters chasing this herd. The question is, will it raise to the levels mentioned in Marks opinion piece. I think not. He fails to account for the liklihood that the same people who favor pred control, will also work to limit the no. of hunters using the areas, should hunter interest become excessive. Between ADF&G, local users, guides, etc. I feel it likely that controls will be put in place should the problems mentioned begin to materialize.
    It has taken some time to approve and implement pred control. It will take time to see results. I don't see any reason we won't be able to respond to these results and prevent the problems brought forth in Marks article.
    Hunters within the 40 mile herd range have asked for, and worked to get pred control for a long time. This isn't a plan forced upon us by Gov Frank or Sen. Seekins. The last 2 sentances of Marks opinoin piece say:
    "I don't think these changes are wonderful. We need your support to turn things around.

    Mark Richards is co-chairman of Alaska Backcountry Hunters and Anglers."
    This is the saddest part of this whole issue. We now have hunter against hunter. The anti hunting groupos couldn't be happier.

  12. #12
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper
    We now have hunter against hunter. The anti hunting groupos couldn't be happier.
    It is absolutely untrue that this is a case of hunter against hunter. Having a thoughtful dialogue about issues where there is some disagreement is not pitting one against the other. We disagree on these forums all of the time, yet I would argue that these discussions strengthen hunters as a group. Disagreement need not be reduced to conflict. If we instead offered blind allegiance to anything offered up by other hunters, I fear what our management system would soon become. Mark, along with those he disagrees with, only seeks to protect and improve the very thing we're all so passionate about. Having these discussions in public only strengthens hunters as a group.

    -Brian

  13. #13
    Member akprideinvegas's Avatar
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    Default

    I agree with the author. i think it is outrageous that they want to kill that many predator's. when the caribou population is down the predator's will fall with iit. when the caribou pop. is up the predator's will rise with it. to just knock out that many animals in that expanse of land would also seem nearly impossible, without totally killing a few small areas.

    on the atv and orv subject. i believe that it should be somewhat controlled. tracks will stay a very long time and it does kill the environment . i am an avid atv and orv user myself, but to what extent are you willing to go to kill an animal. are you going to rut up a hillside that has never been touched. somewhere the line will eventually have to be drawn. just my 2 cents

  14. #14
    Member Chisana's Avatar
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    Default 40 Mile question

    Hey there are lots of hunters out there, it's not reasonable to expect that we will all agree on everything. We see examples of disagreement on the forums everyday. Almost every board of game proposal pits hunters against hunters. Each proposal benefits some and hurts others. Since so much of what we do in hunting is defined by our own personal ethics that will also cause differences. For example, I think it's wrong to chase bears on snow machines, prefering to "use the quads God gave me" while other hunters think mechanized pursuit of grizzlies and other game animals is just fine. Good thing we have a regulatory process to help sort all of this out for us.

    Now to the 40 mile...

    The herd has increased in abundance concurrent with increased predator control efforts, but is that increase a result of the predator control, or other unrelated factors? Won't a much larger herd have the potential to impact the range and cause another crash? It seems that a smaller herd would be more productive for a given unit of range (more calves per cow and therefore more sustainable yield). As long as a lot of predators are being killed the area will act as a predator sink, drawing in predators from other areas to fill the empty niches. If there's a lot of prey, there will be a lot of predators.

    The 40 mile is a pretty easy hunt right now. It's hard to believe that anyone serious about hunting there could be complaining about a lack of caribou. What this is really about is boosting the herd so lazy hunters can go back to the Steese Highway bloodbath days.

    In general I think predator control and the intensive managment harvest goals are designed to do two things: 1) give a big eye gouge to the animal rights people and 2) to make sure that everyone gets to kill an animal everytime they hunt. I could care less about 1, but if 2 is so important then we should just set up some big reindeer farms that people could drive their truck into and whack a couple for meat. Maybe the guys doing the airborne predator control could donate the money they save on expensive avgas to get the new herds started!

    Everyone likes to talk about how the experience is what hunting is all about and that the kill is secondary. I would put myself in that category as well. I certainly like to kill the animal I am after (including wolves and bears if I have the chance), but to me the costs of intensive management are not worth paying to boost my success. I would rather hear wolves howling at night and see bears during the day.

  15. #15
    Forum Admin Brian M's Avatar
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    Default

    Well said, Chisana.

    -Brian

  16. #16

    Thumbs down Backlash

    Quote Originally Posted by Chisana
    Hey there are lots of hunters out there, it's not reasonable to expect that we will all agree on everything. We see examples of disagreement on the forums everyday. Almost every board of game proposal pits hunters against hunters. Each proposal benefits some and hurts others. Since so much of what we do in hunting is defined by our own personal ethics that will also cause differences. For example, I think it's wrong to chase bears on snow machines, prefering to "use the quads God gave me" while other hunters think mechanized pursuit of grizzlies and other game animals is just fine. Good thing we have a regulatory process to help sort all of this out for us.

    Now to the 40 mile...

    The herd has increased in abundance concurrent with increased predator control efforts, but is that increase a result of the predator control, or other unrelated factors? Won't a much larger herd have the potential to impact the range and cause another crash? It seems that a smaller herd would be more productive for a given unit of range (more calves per cow and therefore more sustainable yield). As long as a lot of predators are being killed the area will act as a predator sink, drawing in predators from other areas to fill the empty niches. If there's a lot of prey, there will be a lot of predators.

    The 40 mile is a pretty easy hunt right now. It's hard to believe that anyone serious about hunting there could be complaining about a lack of caribou. What this is really about is boosting the herd so lazy hunters can go back to the Steese Highway bloodbath days.

    In general I think predator control and the intensive managment harvest goals are designed to do two things: 1) give a big eye gouge to the animal rights people and 2) to make sure that everyone gets to kill an animal everytime they hunt. I could care less about 1, but if 2 is so important then we should just set up some big reindeer farms that people could drive their truck into and whack a couple for meat. Maybe the guys doing the airborne predator control could donate the money they save on expensive avgas to get the new herds started!

    Everyone likes to talk about how the experience is what hunting is all about and that the kill is secondary. I would put myself in that category as well. I certainly like to kill the animal I am after (including wolves and bears if I have the chance), but to me the costs of intensive management are not worth paying to boost my success. I would rather hear wolves howling at night and see bears during the day.
    Thats the exact reason why I will not say anymore about this issue, just because people use atv's to hunt they are considered slobs and lazy. I don't agree with the state wanting to kill more predators either, a very bad idea in my opinion.

  17. #17
    webmaster Michael Strahan's Avatar
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    Default Mark Richards' Article

    Mark has some strong opinions on this subject, however I have found that his arguments are usually well researched and supported by good data.

    The only issue I see with the article is that it assumes that the harvest rate per hunter will remain constant as caribou numbers increase. I disagree. As numbers go up, per-capita success will increase as well. This means that it will probably not take the numbers of hunters he says it will take to meet harvest objectives. Be that as it may, his point of increased ATV / ORV habitat impact is well taken. I share this concern, having seen first-hand the destruction that is possible with even one-time use in certain areas. A case could be made for estabilshing trails in some areas, but who will maintain them, or enforce laws to keep folks on such trails? Lots of problems with this issue, and I think the state of Alaska is in a real spot with this. We will either ignore the issue or try to accomodate. Either way, some will lose out.

    I'm still a learner in this area, but I don't think Mark's article was off base at all.

    Regards,

    -Mike
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  18. #18

    Default

    I appreciate Mark's opinion. I don't always agree with it but I think he does good research and we need opposing view points from people like him.

    What is needed is good research to make a sound estimate of the level of animals the habitat will support. I suppose they have that but I really don't know if they do. My support of predator control is really based on faith that the managers have a handle on the range.

    If the habitat will support more animals, I say lets decrease predators and hunting until we reach that level. Then gradually increase both to try to maintain a more stable population.

    I feel that Mark's opposition of predator control is based more on philosophy than on research. I do agree that he does a lot of research and his research has changed my opinion more than once. But I feel that a lot of his research is similar to some of the predator control advocates. It is done with a purpose of supporting a philosophical belief rather than putting all the tools on the table and after good research choosing the best tool for the job.

    Sometimes the best tool can be killing bears and wolves. I BELIEVE that any time we have to use the tool of predator control, we should also cut back on harvest levels. And I admit, that BELIEF is basically philosophical as well.

  19. #19
    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Well...

    Appreciate all the comments, pro and con.

    An Opinion piece is limited to 750 words. It's impossible to get everything pertinent in the piece in that amount of space. So the writer has to choose which argument to incorporate.

    What I couldn't say in the Newsminer piece is that we ran a wolf-control program to benefit the Fortymile Herd (I supported it) from 1997-2001. It was both a non-lethal (sterilization of alpha pairs in 15 pack territories and relocation of subordinate wolves) and lethal (private trapping with an incentive bounty) program. Wolves were reduced by 75% over 15 pack territories. The Fortymile Herd increased during that time from 22,000 animals to 48,000 animals.

    That wolf-control program was supposed to be a "win-win" situation. After the control program ceased, wolves were supposed to be allowed to reach pre-control numbers and beyond. That was the promise given.

    But with all that new biomass available, wolves were making a comeback, though they never did reach pre-control numbers. And then we began another control program (aerial gunning) on them in the same area in 2005, only four years after the last one ended. And now, that program has been expanded to cover the entire range of the Fortymile herd.

    I'm more than upset that we didn't allow the wolves to reach pre-control numbers after the last wolf-control. Promises were not kept. Of course if you double the size of the Fortymile herd and put all that biomass out there, wolves will increase. THAT WAS THE PLAN, for caribou AND wolves to increase. But when wolves began making a comeback, and when the herd stopped increasing, and even decreased a bit, it was decided that couldn't be allowed.

    It's important to note that favorable weather and snow conditions during the last wolf reduction from 1997-2001 allowed the caribou to increase. And unfavorable weather and snow conditions in recent years have contributed to the slight decrease in herd size. These variables (because they go unmentioned) skew perception of what is happening.

    Once the last control program ended, hunting was opened up for both resident and non-res hunters. And as I said in the piece, we're already very close to the minimum harvest objectives set by IM law---hunters on average were taking about 780 caribou over the last three years. The minimum harvest objective is 1,000 caribou.

    When we're already so close to the minimum harvests, I don't see the sense in expanding wolf (and bear) control over such a huge range. We're talking about reducing the wolves by 80% over the equivalent area of New Jersey and Maryland combined. All because we are 220 caribou short of meeting the harvest objective.

    As far as the numbers in the piece, and the median harvest goal of 8,000 caribou...yes the success rates would go up if there were that many caribou available. ADFG could also allow more than one caribou to be taken per hunter, which is a possibility if the herd size really increased. There is also the aspect of more winter hunts, but those depend on the caribou being near a road where snowmachines can be offloaded, and also the herd not overwintering in Canada. Say only one caribou was allowed to be taken per hunter, and the harvest was 8,000 caribou. Doesn't that mean we need 8,000 hunters? Are 100% of hunters going to be successful? No

    Even if you have extremely high success rates, say 80%, to kill 8,000 caribou would require 10,000 hunters. How will they access the backcountry? The stats show how 41% of successful caribou hunters access the backcountry---by atv and orv.

    I've tried to tell atv users that the outcome for them if this plan succeeds is MORE restrictions on use. Either that or a free-for-all that wreaks havoc on habitat and fuels more user conflicts. Which do you atv guys prefer, more restrictions or more habitat damage? It's obvious we can't enforce regs. If you think it's a zoo now hunting off the Taylor every fall, then things will only get worse in that regard with such high harvests.

    My opposition to this predator-control program is grounded in data and research and likely predictable outcomes. Not personal philosophy, though my personal philosophy balks at the notion of a plan of this magnitude when it isn't necessary. NON-RESIDENTS are allowed to hunt the Fortymile herd right now. How could the herd be in any danger then? It isn't.

    Best to all,
    Mark

  20. #20

    Default forty mile

    Mark, You are on the right path with your opinion. The question that i ask is this and that is what makes things so different now then 25 years ago? Has it been proven that we have had such a dramatic increase in hunters? I am sure we had plenty of wolves and bears around then, yet the herd was controlled by natural ups and downs. Why all of a sudden are the wolve packs growing? Is this also part of a natural up and down cycle? I love hunting and yes i trap wolves and hunt bears. What scares me is often times when man interfers with nature we come up short. I remember 10 years ago or so when the Nelchina was opened for a three day kill anything hunt. After that happened the herd went into a huge decline. Was it related? hard to say. Do you know if a study was done or is being done on the natural survival and fertility of wolves and bears today vs the last twenty years? I am just puzzled about the whole thing and i think that it is a huge combination of many factors and the bears and wolves are being a scape goat for a much larger, more complex, and more difficult problem. Viktor

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