The cancellation involved the suspension of all Gobi ibex hunts for 2013, while the increases are supposedly due to some new "regional fees." Their outfitter told them that the local governments want to add a $5,000 "local hunting tag fee" for ibex and $25,000 for argali.
We immediately made some phone calls. The problems seem to stem from a new minister of the environment, who, we hear, is a rabid anti-hunter. We got that from Bob Kern of The Hunting Consortium (540-955-0091). He had warned us only a week earlier to expect some fallout this season from her actions. The new minister, he said, decreed a huge reduction in licenses this year for both argali and ibex. Apparently, she demanded a population survey from each region to determine quotas this year, despite the very detailed surveys that were done only recently. A number of regional governments either did not understand or take her seriously, or they simply could not conduct the surveys and did not submit population data. Those areas did not get permits issued. Kern said the number of argali licenses could be as low as 15 for the entire country (previously 50) and for ibex, a total of 32 (usually about 200).
As for the local government "hunting tag fees," we were unable to confirm whether this is true or not. As we understand it, the small operators have not raised their prices at all, while the larger companies are the ones trying to implement the increases. The permit cuts have left a number of hunting operators with a significantly reduced income this season. Several did not get any argali permits. Others received only one or two permits. The increases could be an attempt........(continued)