Bozeman, Montana. January 25, 2021. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) recently concluded its 44th convention and conservation expo, Sheep Week® The Experience. Although the annual event was completely virtual, record amounts were raised for wild sheep conservation.
At this past week’s virtual expo, nine permits were sold for record amounts, and two other permits saw bids that tied their previous records. From these eleven permits alone, over $2 million was raised from sportsmen to restore and enhance wild sheep populations in North America.
WSF is entrusted by state, provincial, territorial, and tribal wildlife agencies to auction their coveted conservation permits, primarily for wild sheep.
“This was another big year for wild sheep,” said Gray N. Thornton president and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. “The fact that we could not auction these permits in person and yet break nine records is truly a testament to the passion and generosity of the Wild Sheep Family.”
The new records and two ties include:
– $200,000 – Taos Pueblo Rocky Mountain Gorge Hunt ($180,000 in 2020)
– $120,000 – for the Wyoming Rocky Mountain bighorn ($110,000 in 2020)
– $310,000 – Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn ($175,000)
– $240,000 – New Mexico bighorn ($175,000 in 2020)
– $210,000 – Nebraska Rocky Mountain bighorn ($130,000 in 2015)
– $180,000 – Colorado Mountain bighorn ($140,000)
– $200,000 – Washington California bighorn ($155,000 in 2020)
– $27,500 – Nevada pronghorn ($8,250 in 1995)
– $35,000 – Wyoming Governor’s bison (First year WSF auctioned)
– $275,000 – British Columbia mountain sheep ($275,000 in 2013)
– $210,000 – Oregon Rocky Mountain bighorn ($210,000 in 2019)
In all, an astounding $4,488,500 was raised in three evening auctions from conservation permits. Depending on the permit, eighty-five to one hundred percent of these funds are directed to these fish and wildlife agencies for wild sheep conservation, management, and enhancement programs. The balance that WSF retains is also directed to wild sheep and habitat conservation through its mission programs. Agencies depend on these funds and the Wild Sheep Foundation to raise them. According to the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies 74% of all agency wild sheep conservation funding comes from an auction or raffle conservation permit.
Other Sheep Week® auction highlights include:
– $440,000 – Montana bighorn
– $165,000 – Nevada - Nelson Desert bighorn sheep
– $255,000 – New Mexico Big Game Enhancement Package
– $195,000 – Alberta Minister's Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $193,000 – New Mexico Desert bighorn
– $315,000 – Arizona Desert bighorn
– $175,000 – Alaska Chugach Dall's Sheep
– $165,000 – Taos Pueblo - Rocky Mountain bighorn
“WSF is privileged to be able to market and sell these special permits,” Thornton explained. “No one else, no other group other than sportsmen, are putting this kind of money into wild sheep conservation. Wild sheep would simply not exist in the numbers they are today without this specialized economy built for their benefit that puts and keeps them on the mountain. In the world of wildlife conservation focused on a specific species, the generosity of sheep hunters is unmatched.”
A conservation sheep permit entitles the successful bidder the opportunity to hunt for one sheep without the need to apply and hope to draw a limited number of tags. Of the estimated 85,000 bighorn sheep and 100,000 thinhorn sheep in existence today in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, all tags issued annually by agencies represent a harvest of only1-3 percent of the total wild sheep population if hunters are 100% successful.
The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 8,500 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $135 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”®. These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today. www.wildsheepfoundation.org.