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WSF Releases “BE SURE”, a New Field Identification Guide

June 3, 2024

Comparing Aoudad to Desert Bighorn

The Wild Sheep Foundation has released a new guide to address mistaken identity between bighorn sheep and aoudad (Barbary Sheep).

“With aoudad populations expanding rapidly, we’re hearing increasing reports of hunters mistakenly shooting desert bighorn ewes and juvenile rams when hunting aoudads,” explained Gray N. Thornton, President & CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. “That’s a problem for wild sheep game managers, and it could also result in legal problems for hunters.”

Aoudad are North African natives first imported into America via the New York Zoological Park and the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in 1900. They are not only adaptable from the perspective of habitat and diet but are also highly prolific breeders.

Today, their ranges include Texas, New Mexico, California, Oklahoma, and central Oregon – all ranges that are also occupied by native desert bighorn or Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

“Although this is still a rare occurrence, being sure of your target has always been within the code of ethics sportsmen and women have proudly followed dating back to their hunter certification courses,” Thornton added.

“BE SURE” is designed as a field guide to illustrate the differences between the species, especially where an aoudad can closely resemble a female bighorn sheep. It was produced by the Wild Sheep Foundation, in partnership with WSF’s New Mexico Chapter and WSF Affiliate Texas Bighorn Society, and can be viewed and downloaded at this link.
The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by sportsmen and other wild sheep conservationists. WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep, having raised and expended more than $145 million, positively impacting these species through population and habitat enhancements, research and education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain®”. In North America, these and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations from historic lows in the 1950s-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today. WSF has a membership of more than 10,000 worldwide.

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