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Thread: Alaska Backcountry Hunters BOG Dall Sheep Conservation Proposal

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Alaska Backcountry Hunters BOG Dall Sheep Conservation Proposal

    I imagine this will not be the only proposal that centers around the problems we have in Region III regarding sheep conservation and conflicts. We spoke with a lot of different people on this, got a lot of good input, and speaking for myself I learned a lot more in reading some wildlife monographs and sheep research steered my way.

    I hope something like this proposal will get a lot of broad support from both resident hunters and guides, here's the link to pdf version, will try to also paste it in below:
    http://www.alaskabackcountryhunters....%20meeting.pdf

    ALASKA BOARD OF FISHERIES AND ALASKA BOARD OF GAME
    REGULATION PROPOSAL FORM
    PO BOX 115526, JUNEAU, ALASKA 99811-5526
    BOARD OF FISHERIES REGULATIONS
    BOARD OF GAME REGULATIONS
    Fishing Area
    Game Management Unit (GMU)
    Region III
    Subsistence
    Personal Use
    XHunting
    Trapping
    Sport
    Commercial
    Subsistence
    Other

    JOINT BOARD REGULATIONS
    Resident
    Advisory Committee
    Regional Council
    Rural
    XNonresident
    Please answer all questions to the best of your ability. All answers will be printed in the proposal packets along with the proposer's name (address and phone numbers will not be published). Use separate forms for each proposal.
    1. Alaska Administrative Code Number 5 AAC

    Regulation Book Page No.


    2. What is the problem you would like the Board to address?

    Dall Sheep Conservation, Unlimited Nonresident Sheep Hunting Opportunities and Unlimited Guide Numbers in parts of Region III


    In many parts of Region III (excluding GMUs within USFWS and NPS lands) where we have open general season sheep hunts, there are no limits on the number of nonresident hunters or the guides they are required to hire to hunt sheep. Because nonresident guided hunters have such a higher success rate than resident hunters, this has led to localized overharvests of sheep and diminished populations, as well as crowding and conflicts between guides and resident hunters and guide-on-guide conflicts among an unlimited number of guides licensed for the same area.

    Conservation and sustainability of sheep populations has not been successful under a full-curl only harvest regulation that allows for nearly every full curl ram to be taken each season, as is happening in some areas. We need to leave more full curl rams on the mountain to breed in late November at the peak of the rut, in order that they dominate the breeding and younger sub-dominant rams arenít overly taxed in competing for ewes that it affects their overwinter survival.

    The prospect of resident sheep hunting going to draw-only, as it has in other areas with similar problems, is another reason to implement better conservation strategies.

    Delays in implementing the proposed DNR Guide Concession Program (GCP) should not hamper the Boardís attention to these conservation issues, and as the earliest possible implementation of the GCP is now 2013, the time to act on sheep conservation is now.

    3. What will happen if this problem is not solved?

    Continued localized depletions of full-curl rams that threaten population sustainability and resident general open season sheep hunting opportunities, continued user conflicts and crowding, and continued inequitable nonresident sheep harvest rates of 40% annually in much of Region III.

    4. What solution do you prefer? In other words, if the Board adopted your solution, what would the new regulation say?

    All nonresident sheep hunts in Region III where we have general open season (non-draw) hunts for nonresidents (excluding units within USFWS and NPS lands) become draw only, require a signed guide-client agreement before or at time of permit application, and the number of permits is capped based on sheep density and population estimates conducted by ADFG so that nonresident harvest does not exceed 15-20% of the yearís estimated harvestable surplus. These stipulations would not apply to any nonresidents hunting with a 2nd degree of kindred.

    We also recommend incorporating some kind of post-hunt adult ram threshold when determining how many permits to issue for each GUA, so that we ensure we are leaving a certain percentage of adult rams in the population each year. ADFG would also need discretionary authority to limit permits based on weather events and high winterkill numbers.

    5. Does your proposal address improving the quality of the resource harvested or products produced? If so, how?
    Yes. By limiting nonresident sheep hunting opportunities in much of Region III we thus limit the guides they must hire, thereby reducing sheep harvests. This will result in more full curl rams on the mountain to breed in November, less sub-dominant ram winter mortality, and will improve the quality of sheep hunts for both guided and undguided hunters by reducing crowding and conflicts afield.
    6. Solutions to difficult problems benefit some people and hurt others:
    A. Who is likely to benefit if your solution is adopted?
    All those who truly put the resource first and wish to see our Region III sheep populations conserved and sustained. All resident hunters. All guided nonresident hunters who want a more quality sheep hunt without the crowding and conflicts we currently have in many areas.
    B. Who is likely to suffer if your solution is adopted?
    Some guides could suffer monetarily because of fewer nonresident clients. Division of Wildlife Conservation funding would decrease due to fewer nonresident sheep tags being sold, and some local economies could see a decrease in nonresident hunting-related tourism. (It should be noted that these are the same effects implementation of the Guide Concession Program, which is supported by the Board, would have.) Nonresident sheep hunters would lose the guarantee to be able to hunt Dall sheep in parts of Region III, and would have to take their chances with a draw-only hunt.
    7. List any other solutions you considered and why you rejected them.
    DO NOT WRITE HERE

    Cap nonresident allocations at 10-15% of harvestable surplus based on density and population estimates.

    Rejected because we want to have a bit higher nonresident sliding scale allocation cap that will encourage support from more guides and other organizations.


    Base nonresident draw permit sheep allocation caps on most recent 10-year harvest figures instead of density/population estimates and actual harvestable surplus.

    Rejected because in many areas the last ten years of harvests have been beyond what is sustainable. If ADFG is unable to conduct current sheep density and population estimates on which to base harvestable surplus and nonresident permit numbers, a better method than basing those on harvest records is needed.


    Create Region III registration sheep hunts for residents in all general (non-draw) open season areas, implement mandatory harvest reporting period, give ADFG discretionary authority to close some sheep hunts based on harvest reports, in conjunction with our proposed solution.

    Rejected as unneeded at this time. However, given that the priority is sheep conservation and continued sheep hunting opportunities, resident sheep hunters need to be aware that this type of approach may be necessary, and preferrable, to a draw-only hunt in the future.



    September 1st start to all Region III sheep hunts where general open season (non-draw) regulations apply.

    Rejected. We really need to continue to provide youth/family hunting opportunities prior to the school term. Making many resident hunters choose between sheep or moose hunting isnít the preferable avenue to fix the problems we outlined.



    Submitted By: Name
    Alaska chapter Backcountry Hunters & Anglers

    Individual or Group
    PO Box 47
    Homer, Alaska
    99603
    Address
    City, State
    ZIP Code
    235-9408
    399-2340
    alaskabha@starband.net
    Home Phone
    Work Phone
    Email

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    I like the way you think, Mark!

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    [FONT=Times New Roman][SIZE=4]We also recommend incorporating some kind of post-hunt adult ram threshold when determining how many permits to issue for each GUA, so that we ensure we are leaving a certain percentage of adult rams in the population each year. ADFG would also need discretionary authority to limit permits based on weather events and high winterkill numbers.
    Your proposing to limit non res hunter numbers and thus, hope, to reduce harvest. But your not limiting res numbers. How much resident harvest will replace the non res harvest?
    I don't see how your plan gives any kind of guaranteed reduced total harvest.
    From what I see on this forum, most resident sheep hunters want to reduce non res/guide numbers and kills so THEY can get those sheep.
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    Default res or nonres, guide or non-guided?

    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    From what I see on this forum, most resident sheep hunters want to reduce non res/guide numbers and kills so THEY can get those sheep.
    I think a little more to the point is that residents want a chance at those sheep without hiring a guide.

    A large percentage of non-res hunters do hire a guide (I don't know the #). Also, a very large percentage of resident sheep hunters do not hire a guide.

    I believe that a guide increases a hunter's chances of harvesting.

    Am I making sense here? Or should I try to reword this another way?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I think a little more to the point is that residents want a chance at those sheep without hiring a guide.

    A large percentage of non-res hunters do hire a guide (I don't know the #). Also, a very large percentage of resident sheep hunters do not hire a guide.

    I believe that a guide increases a hunter's chances of harvesting.

    Am I making sense here? Or should I try to reword this another way?
    Well I am hoping that 100% of non-residents hire a guide unless they are 2nd degree of kindred being as its the law.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    Well I am hoping that 100% of non-residents hire a guide unless they are 2nd degree of kindred being as its the law.
    OK, I'll try another way; thanks for the prompt.

    I've seen tons of locals parading up and down the valleys in ATVs watching for a full curl to wallk across in front of them. But the guides I've seen all concentrate up high in the rocks (where the sheep are.... duh). The guides profile and track each herd until opening day where they go earn their bacon. Hard earned yes, I won't argue about that. Hunting with a guide stands a better chance of harvesting than the local that picks up his sheep permit at Fred Meyer and heads out the next day.

    But lots (the majority?) of residents can't afford the luxury of having their hunting grounds pre-spotted by hired hands. I know I can't. I think many others cannot also.

    Let me be plain: I agree with the OP's proposal that a prescribed percentage of permits (only) should be allocated to non residents, and the remainder of the permits left for residents to attempt to harvest.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I've seen tons of locals parading up and down the valleys in ATVs watching for a full curl to wallk across in front of them. But the guides I've seen all concentrate up high in the rocks (where the sheep are.... duh). The guides profile and track each herd until opening day where they go earn their bacon. Hard earned yes, I won't argue about that. Hunting with a guide stands a better chance of harvesting than the local that picks up his sheep permit at Fred Meyer and heads out the next day.
    Hmmm, I have yet to run in to resident ATVers that are actively hunting for sheep let alone TONS!!! How did you know all the guides you have seen in the rocks were in fact guides anyways?? Not sure how you see all these guides while out hunting if you aren't willing to pay for fly outs as it is.

    There are A LOT of sheep hunters in this state willing to pay to play via air taxi and what not to get it done. At no point is limiting non-residents to sheep hunting via draw going allow all these supposed resident ATV sheep hunters that only hunt the valleys find the sheep. I would be in favor of sheep once every 4 years for residents and once in a lifetime for non-residents honestly...but what Bushrat has proposed above is much less drastic and if that is all it takes to make it work then great.

    That aside I believe, the OPs proposal is solid. Restricting non-res to draws FIRST to see if this helps the sheep populations and if not then begin restricting residents via draw.

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    i think we are headed to drawing hunts for all sheep eventually, what we have to decide is do we want drawings with lots of permits and decent success rates, or will we wait until we've let the sheep get so hammered that permits are limited and rams are few?

    i also wonder what proposals any of the other orgs may have put in? what about the sheep federation, AOC and SFW? did they have any suggestions to keep more sheep on the mountain?
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    I like the concept- nice job Mark.

    When a resource becomes scarce or pressured- limiting non-res opportunity is the first step and limiting resident opportunity is the second. I'm sure that some in the guiding industry won't like it but long term stability of the resource is more important in my book. If residents step up to the plate and take more animals than they currently do (which I find unlikely), then limiting sheep to a "1 in 4yr" or, at worst case, a pure draw tag situation might be required. I personally would like to avoid steps that drastic.

    I don't think residents will fill in the gap if guided hunters are reduced- simple fact is that most residents with multiple opportunities to harvest sheep will not feel the pressure to go to extraordinary lengths to kill a sheep. Some sheep hunters are very dedicated but when you have a guide and a non-res hunter with $25K+ invested in a hunt, I'm sure they feel an entirely different kind of pressure. Many of these guys are on a once in a lifetime hunt- "I'll get one next year" doesn't come up much I bet...

    We follow this plan on other species so why would we do it differently with sheep? Other than the huge sums of money involved there isn't much difference.

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default in reply to Martentrapper's concerns

    Everyone I spoke with on this, Mike, including guides and a couple air taxis, thought if we put all nonres sheep hunts in Region III to draw only and capped allocations as proposed, that overall sheep harvests would go down at least 20%.

    And the rationale for that is that we are pretty much maxed out now on resident hunter interest and air taxis are booked up solid now well ahead of the season.
    Also some felt that if we could leave more full curl rams on the mtn, sub-legal take may also go down because there would be more actual FC rams out there for hunters to glass and decide upon.

    Now, another part of this proposal and something I'll speak to at the meeting, involves changing the way we manage sheep. The full-curl only regulation isn't - all by itself - working. We have to leave a lot more FC rams on the mtn each year. Hence the necessity of ADFG density and population estimates, deciding on a harvestable surplus, and pegging nonres allocations now on that HS, instead of say, recent 10-year harvest levels (which were really overharvests), or allocating 15-20% of the total population.

    Anyway, if we can cut overall harvests down now by 20%, it's a start. And as we say in the proposal, resident sheep hunters need to be aware that another possible solution could involve registration hunts down the line, with limits on harvests and possible EO closures. That would be preferable to draw-only hunts.

    Luke, we didn't consider the one every four years but should have. That is another possible solution to cut down resident harvests.

    Another aspect of this, and some guides were ticked that AK BHA has not supported the Guide Concession Program, which they believe is the best solution to the issue of unlimited guides and also to unlimited nonres sheep hunting opportunity in much of Region III...is that the Board has been holding off on doing anything about this known problem because they are waiting on the GCP. But the way we see it, the GCP hasn't stalled simply because AK BHA has opposed it, it has opposition from at least half of all guides from what we can tell. And the more we have looked into it the more we believe it may never happen, but if it does it will land in court and there will likely be an injunction until it is settled, further prolonging really dealing with this issue if the Board does not do something at the next meeting.

    It's past time for the Board to try to fix what's going on out there by limiting nonres opportunity in order to also limit the guides they must hire. That is the starting point. ADFG must also come up with a better system than FC-only regulation to adequately manage sheep so we have a post-hunt FC ram component left on the mtn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    Hmmm, I have yet to run in to resident ATVers that are actively hunting for sheep let alone TONS!!! How did you know all the guides you have seen in the rocks were in fact guides anyways??
    I have, and the guides I talk to are mid-season, in those valley on their way to/from on-high, not there already. To/From places you can't fly to.

    Why all the argument when you seem to be agreeing with what I'm saying?

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    This is long over due in happening. Thanks for your efforts Mark. I support this 100%. And MT, would it be evil that "residents" want a fair crack at our own game?? I just don't get it.

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    With regards to this proposal exempting non-residents that are hunting with 2nd degree of kindred, is there any other hunt in the state that distinguishes between professionally guided non-residents and those hunting with family? I understand that those hunting with family are likely to have similar success rates to those of resident hunters, but I'm not seeing a justification for the distinction given the concern for resident opportunity.

    Thanks for spearheading this, Mark. I'll certainly be writing in support of this prop.

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    Please re read my post, Northway. No where did I say anything about evil residents. No where did I say residents should be limited. My questions were directed at the idea that less non res hunters would mean more sheep. My observations are, from reading this forum, that there are plenty of residents out looking for sheep and whatever sheep are not shot by non res, will likely be shot by res. Again..........just so we are clear..........I'm not saying there is anything wrong with that.
    If less non res/guided hunters are flying out.......will the transporters fill those spots with res hunters? I think so. I don't live in sheep country so I'm not an expert, but if you want to lower hunter harvest, you need to lower the number of hunters in the field. Lowering non res participation won't accomplish that IF res hunters move in to fill the holes.
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    Default 2nd degree of kindred concerns

    Brian,

    Politics (wildlife mgmt politics in this sense) is the art of compromise <grin>. Every guide I spoke with was pretty ticked that where nonres allocations went to draw only and were capped that 2nd degree of kindred nonres hunters were a part of that capped allocation.

    I thought that was a fair and very good point. Take 2nd degree of kindred nonres hunters out of that allocation and cap, put them in under the resident regs.

    So the justification/rationale is to not further take guide-client opportunities away because of our state's very odd and bizarre law that says someone who is here for a year and thus a qualified legal resident is ostensibly as qualified to guide a nonresident hunter for sheep, and is aware of all the safety and judging sheep horn issues etc as, say, a guide with 20 years of experience with sheep hunting.

    Very good question btw.
    Best,

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    Member bushrat's Avatar
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    Default Mike (MT) you were posting when I replied to Brian...

    Mike, your concerns on residents taking up the slack so to speak of less nonres guided hunters were valid, and it came up in every conversation I had.

    But you don't seem to buy my earlier response. You are right that lowering nonres guided hunters, if resident unguided hunters at the same number and success rate fill in that gap, will do nothing to conserve sheep populations.

    But no one, including air taxis I spoke with, sees that happening. As you are intimately familiar with the air taxi biz and a pilot yourself, I figured you would get that. Yes, some of the guide businesses do hire commercial air taxis (keyword there is "some"), but most of the near 100% success rate guides are all flying clients themselves under Part 91 FAA regs. And they are "spotting" too with their own aircraft.

    How many more hunters can the air taxis book if they stop flying for guides? Will they actually stop flying for the same guides who use them now if we go to draw only and cap allocations for nonres hunters? And does that mean that they will then tell those same guides that the handshake agreement not to fly in X amount of other hunters to the same area will no longer be in place?

    Nonresidents take 40% of the sheep in much of Region III but make up about 20% of the number of actual hunters. Their success rates obviously are much higher <grin>. Even if we equaled the same number of actual sheep hunters (which we won't!) by limiting those nonres hunters, the disparity in success rates will alone account for a considerable drop in harvests.

    So what say you? Did I convince you? Can you get your AC to support our proposal? <grin>

    All in good fun, Mike, hope things are well there, watching the river come up atop the ice here and have been gearing up for breakup.
    Cheers,

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post

    So what say you? Did I convince you? Can you get your AC to support our proposal? <grin>
    You have convinced me, Mark...........tho I think I'm kinda low on the totem pole of those who can help. Good job and Thank You.
    I suspect that when our AC meeting comes (not likely any time soon) proposals from other areas and regions won't be on the agenda. The region V meeting is our concern and it is next Nov.
    When is the next Region III meeting?
    But one other thing.........how will the dept replace the money lost from less non res licensing, tags, and assoc PR funds?
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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    I have, and the guides I talk to are mid-season, in those valley on their way to/from on-high, not there already. To/From places you can't fly to.

    Why all the argument when you seem to be agreeing with what I'm saying?
    Not really argueing really just trying to figure out why you are hunting on locales that has "TONS" of ATV sheep hunters and a lot of guides up working the rocks....Seems like there might be better areas to hunt Perhaps all the resident hunters were just over the hill on the other sides of the mountains as well.

    I agree we are are on the same page on Mark's proposal....Just think we are viewing the "problem" a bit differently.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post


    "... but most of the near 100% success rate guides are all flying clients themselves under Part 91 FAA regs. And they are "spotting" too with their own aircraft...".
    Well, at the risk of being responsible for another of your "pink panty fantasies" - just where does the "...100% success rate guides..." come from? The near "100 %" success rate for guided sheep hunters is certainly not reflected in any of the data I've seen. Perhaps you will "share" your references.

    All proposals should be given careful consideration regardless of the "source", however, it is most unfortunate when an "allocation" issue is attempted to be "sold" as a resource concern.

    Allocate however, just don't twist the numbers and use the "we're saving the children" as a justification.
    Joe

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    Quote Originally Posted by bushrat View Post
    most of the near 100% success rate guides
    ah, english, such a tricky language and so hard to master...
    what mark said is there is a group of guides that have "near 100% success rates" , and of that group "most" are flying under part 91.
    not that all guides have a 100% success rate.
    and for the most part i have been as impressed by guides touting their "concern for the resource" as i have by bristol palin's abstinence campaign.
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