The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) recently concluded its 43rd annual Sheep Show® convention, held in Reno, Nevada, this past January. The event draws hunter-conservationists from around the globe to reconnect with friends, make new ones, shop for their next adventure, and hopefully win or book a hunting adventure of a lifetime.
“We knew after the show this would be a big year for wild sheep,” said Gray N. Thornton president and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. “It has taken us a while to do all the tabulations from our auctions, raffles, and donations, but the results are in, and we couldn’t be more pleased and grateful to all who attended, donated, and purchased.”
In total, from the auctions alone, the convention raised more than $4.2 million from state, provincial, tribal, and country conservation permits. This number represents a 28% increase over 2019 and $919,000 more for wild sheep and wildlife conservation. 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.
Some of the highlights from the auction include:
– An incredible $340,000 raised for the Kluane First Nation Dall’s sheep program
– $310,000 for the Montana Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $270,000 for the New Mexico big game enhancement
– $270,000 for the Arizona desert bighorn
– $230,000 for the British Columbia mountain sheep
– $180,000 for the Taos Pueblo Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $175,000 for the New Mexico desert bighorn
– $165,000 for the Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $165,000 for the Alberta Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $155,000 for the Washington California bighorn
– $140,000 for the Colorado Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $130,000 for Tajikistan Markhor conservation
– $120,000 for Tajikistan Marco Polo conservation
– $110,000 for the Wyoming Rocky Mountain bighorn
– $91,000 for the Arizona pronghorn
In all, $4,241,500 was raised in three evening auctions from conservation permits alone, and 11 new world record bids were recorded.
“WSF is privileged to be able to market and sell these conservation permits,” Thornton explained. “No one else, no other group other than sportsmen, are putting this kind of money into wildlife conservation. In this case, it’s for sheep and their habitats, which benefits a multitude of other species. There is nothing more impressive and satisfying than seeing our wild sheep populations grow, other than the dedication and generosity of sheep hunters.”
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 represents a harvest of only1-3 percent of the total wild sheep population if hunters are 100% successful.