OLDER NEWS FROM PAST ISSUE OF ‘THE RAM’
“DROPPINGS-News from “the inside”
By W. Heimer, Pres.
FRANK ENTSMINGER WINS OUTSTANDING GUIDE AWARD AT WESTERN HUNTING EXPO
Long time Dall sheep hunter, management cooperator, taxidermist, guide, sculptor, FNAWS member/supporter, and all-around great guy, Frank Entsminger, received the outstanding guide award during the Saturday night banquet at the FNAWS Convention (Western Hunting and Conservation Expo) in Salt Lake City. The outstanding guide award recognizes the outstanding “person on the mountain with the hunter” annually. Frank and his wife, Sue, also donated a very nice bronze for auction with the proceeds going to help fight the initiative banning aerial wolf control. Congratulations and thanks to Frank and Sue Entsminger!
ALASKA FNAWS IS “IN THE FIGHT” AGAINST WOLF PROTECTION INITIATIVE
Alaska FNAWS has contributed $5,000 to fight the initiative to ban wolf control in Alaska. Our contribution has gone to the association of clubs organized to fight the initiative. We have pledged to help raise more. The need for predator management to benefit not only moose and caribou, but also sheep has never been greater. If you want to contribute, contact us via email to our website, www.alaskafnaws.org and we’ll hook you up with some very appreciative Alaskan patriots.
“COUGHING” RAM SHOT-- SAMPLES TAKEN—NO CRISIS APPARENT
A mature ram taken by Frank and Sue Entsminger on Johnson River (Alaska Range) had pneumonia, and they sent samples to ADF&G for testing. This ram was one of several seen coughing. The pathology report indicated the ram was recovering from pneumonia. The fact he was recovering suggests the pneumonia was not the same kind that wipes out bighorns which have been in contact with domestic sheep. This is not the first time Alaskan sheep have been seen coughing. Old time sheep biologist, Wayne Heimer says his mentor, Tony Smith, and others before them (Sam Snyder and Frank Jones) reported seeing sheep coughing as early as the 1960s. The “normal sheep diseases” and parasites in Alaska’s Dall sheep have been reasonably well documented by ADF&G’s past sheep research work. “Sore mouth,” lungworms, and pneumonia are fairly common.
ADF&G BIOLOGISTS ATTEND WESTERN HUNTING AND CONSERVATION EXPO (aka THE FNAWS CONVENTION)
ADF&G sent four biologists to the FNAWS Convention to market the Governor’s permits for a Unimak Brown Bear and a Kodiak Mountain Goat, and to talk about hunting in Alaska. At the last minute, the mountain goat permit to be auctioned was pulled because Alaska statutes don’t include mountain goats in the list of big game species for which permits can be sold. Thanks go to Dick Rohrer, a FNAWS member and guide from Kodiak, for helping prevent this mistake. A Chitina bison permit was substituted by ADF&G, and promoted at auction by Glennallen Area Biologist, Bob Tobey. The Unimak grizzly bear permit went for $15,500, and the Chitina River bison for about $5,000. Ninety percent of these funds (about $18K) will be added to Alaska’s Fish and Game Fund. If the biologists’ travel costs were about the same as FNAWS Board member, Heimer’s, the net to ADF&G from this effort should have been at least $10K. Additionally, Ms. Becky Kelleyhouse represented ADF&G at several meetings of biologists where sheep management was discussed.
This was the first time, ever, that no Alaska special sheep permit had been awarded to National FNAWS. Instead, the Department of Wildlife Conservation allocated Alaskan Dall sheep permits to the Conklin Foundation (associated with Grand Slam Club/OVIS) and the Utah FNAWS chapter. We don’t know how these will sell, but your Chapter Board is working with Utah FNAWS (where the TMA permit went) to maximize the revenues from the TMA permit. The Chugach permit has been sold, but we don’t know for how much. Ninety percent of those revenues will also go into Alaska’s Fish and Game Fund. Typically, FNAWS likes to fund projects in states it has served by “brokering” the state permits. We hope Grand Slam Club/OVIS takes an interest in funding Alaskan projects as a result of its involvement in the Chugach permit sale.
MORE ON PERMITS (a short editorial)
Alaska FNAWS has learned the Division of Wildlife Conservation (DWC) has a poor past record when it comes to allocating permits for sale. The original legislative intent for the Governor’s permit system was to make as much profit (to do wildlife management and restoration) from the raffle or auction of these special permits as possible. Instead of marketing sheep permits through “sheep organizations,” (where they sell for the highest prices), the DWC has a history moving them around to various entities despite these organizations’ lack of commitment to supporting conservation issues or not being sheep-oriented. The records show that sheep permits generally sell for higher prices through FNAWS. The Division of Wildlife Conservation cannot account for well over half a million dollars that went into the Fish and Game Fund from the sale of Governor’s permits, and we hope that it will be more judicious in choosing who receives the permits in the future and will also be accountable for the expenditure of permit funds. We, of course, would like to see “sheep money” go to a “sheep program.” We’d especially like to see the permit go through FNAWS.
ADF&G DRAFT LEGISLATION WOULD EXEMPT DALL SHEEP FROM “ACTIVE MANAGEMENT”
Alaska has what is called the “Intensive Management Law.” This law was passed about 10 years ago because the Department was limiting hunting opportunities on declining game populations without doing anything to restore the populations. Hunters and legislators didn’t like it, and got a weakened law passed over ADF&G’s objections. Basically, the law says ADF&G can’t shorten or close a season without trying to restore a declining population first. Ways populations can be recovered include habitat rehabilitation and predator management to benefit population growth. Over time, a complex set of criteria for implementing “intensive management” developed, and getting anything done became administratively/bureaucratically difficult. When opponents of wolf control filed their initiative petition last year, the Administration introduced a bill to “head off” the initiative. It didn’t work, we’re scheduled to vote on that referendum (it isn’t really an initiative) in August. That same bill has now evolved into a rewrite of the Intensive Management Law. We worked to keep Dall sheep off of the original intensive management list because it seemed being on that list might eliminate trophy and high aesthetic quality hunting programs as management objectives. That seemed a good choice at the time, but didn’t keep managers from letting Dall sheep populations decline. Now, in the rewrite of the Intensive Management Law, “intensive management” is planned to become “active management,” and Dall sheep and Mountain Goats are specifically excluded from the list of game animals to be managed “actively.” Considering that many Dall sheep populations are down and could benefit from predator control, the Alaska Chapter Board wonders just what is driving ADF&G’s agenda. Is keeping sheep from “active management” a good idea? And just what is “inactive” or “passive” management? Nobody, except the Administration and folks who think they can improve the bill (from their perspective) seems to like the bill. Wolf protectionists hate it because it might make wolf control easier. “Intensive managers” hate it because it weakens the original intent of the Intensive Management Act. Still, the Governor is behind the bill and it may survive. In any case, we’ll have to vote on aerial wolf control in August anyway.
OLSON AND HEIMER MEET WITH ALASKA NATURAL GAS DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY ABOUT PALMER-GLENNALLEN GAS LINE
Alaska FNAWS Board Member, Warren Olson arranged for him and FNAWS President, Heimer, to meet with Harold Heinze, Executive Director of the Alaska Natural Gas Development Authority in January. Mr. Heinze was cordial, and presented the rationale for the Palmer/Glennallen gas line and route. Olson and Heimer explained that, while Dall sheep could probably tolerate a gas line through their country, FNAWS was concerned about rumors of excluding hunters from this traditional Dall sheep hunting ground to “protect” the gas line. Mr. Heinze pointed out that this exclusion would basically be cosmetic because trying to disable an energy distribution system by blowing up the pipe is silly. Pipes can be quickly repaired. He did not think exclusion of sheep hunters was necessary. Mr. Heinze stressed that the folks who tell him what to build and where are the planners in the Department of Natural Resources and Transportation/Public Facilities. If we want to influence decisions on this gas line, we need to be talking with them. We learned why we’ve been unable to find anyone in Anchorage who even admits knowing about this gas line plan. The planning is being done out of Fairbanks because the Fairbanks district begins on the “north side of the road.” With this information, we’ll keep at it.
PLUGGING TO REMAIN MANDATORY
In spite of Alaska FNAWS opposition to keeping the mandatory sheep plugging program, it will remain. The Board of Game rejected our joint proposal to eliminate the plugging program. Our reasons simply didn’t carry the day. Since the program will remain mandatory, Alaska FNAWS is committed to improving the process. We intend to offer ADF&G a modern way to measure degrees of horn curl using digital photography and computer graphics.