UAF survey seeks sheep hunter input

Dall sheep ram, about 10 years old, in the St. Elias Mountains, Alaska. Credit: Steve Arthur.
Photo by Steve Arthur
Dall sheep ram, about 10 years old, in the St. Elias Mountains, Alaska.

Marie Thoms

Concern over competition, crowding and conflict among Alaska’s resident and nonresident hunters of Dall sheep, as well as guides and transporters, is being addressed by a University of Alaska Fairbanks survey.

“An increasing number of proposals requesting changes to sheep hunting regulations have been submitted to the Alaska Board of Game in recent years,” said Todd Brinkman, project leader and a wildlife biologist with the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology. “Many of the proposals have noted conflict among resident and nonresident hunters, guides and transporters. This is something most sheep hunters in Alaska are aware of.”

Many of the proposals have requested changes in hunting season dates and changes in the proportion of sheep tags allocated to nonresidents.

Brinkman’s survey is designed to examine the issues, attitudes and behaviors of a large and representative cross-section of Alaska sheep hunters. Hunters are asked about their hunting patterns, how they feel about hunter competition and crowding, hunting season timing and the cost of resident and nonresident sheep tags, for example.

“Because sheep hunters are interested and motivated and care a lot about this resource, I anticipate they’ll take the 20 to 30 minutes to do this,” Brinkman said.

The survey will be sent to anyone at least 18 years old who has hunted or received or applied for a hunting permit in the last five years.

“I did a survey like this on Sitka black-tailed deer and on antlerless moose hunts in Interior Alaska, and it helped to identify the extent of the central problems,” said Brinkman, whose research focuses on the human dimension of wildlife. “This survey should be able to tell us how the typical sheep hunter feels about the current situation and how it might be improved.”

Brinkman conducted nearly 100 in-person focus-group discussions with sheep hunters, guides, transporters and sheep biologists from across Alaska, including Fairbanks, Tok, Palmer, Anderson, Healy, Glennallen, Wasilla and Anchorage, and held teleconferences with stakeholders in several communities off the road system to develop the survey. He expects the survey results to provide a resource for the Alaska Board of Game and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to use when developing regulations for the management and allocation of sheep.

Postcards will be sent out the week of May 19 encouraging a few thousand hunters to complete the survey online. A mail-in option will also be available in early June for those who don’t complete the online version. A separate survey for guides, transporters and air taxis providing services to sheep hunters will be conducted in about a month. Participation is voluntary and respondents will be anonymous.

Brinkman anticipates survey results will be available at area ADFG offices and on their website in 2015.

ADDITIONAL CONTACT: Todd Brinkman, assistant professor, 907-474-7139,