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Conservation Programs


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THE WILD SHEEP FOUNDATION’S PURPOSE IS TO “PUT AND KEEP WILD SHEEP ON THE MOUNTAIN®.” ONE OF THE WAYS WE ACCOMPLISH THIS IS TO RAISE FUNDS AND DIRECT THIS MONEY TO STATE, PROVINCIAL, TERRITORIAL, AND TRIBAL/FIRST NATION WILDLIFE AGENCIES TO HELP FINANCE THEIR WILD SHEEP CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT PROGRAMS.

Unlike mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and other big game species, the sale of wild sheep licenses does not generate nearly enough revenue for these agencies to have a comprehensive wild sheep management programs. Consequently, wild sheep were not an agency priority in many western states during the 1960s and ‘70s. Sadly, bighorn sheep in North America hit their all-time lows in the 1950s at only 25,000 in Canada, Mexico, and the United States. Today, the bighorn sheep population has grown to more than 90,000. Dall’s sheep and Stone’s sheep (commonly referred to as thinhorn sheep) populations are currently estimated at 100,000, but precise population estimates are difficult due to the vastness of thinhorn sheep range, and difficulty/cost of completing comprehensive surveys.
 
WSF Conservation Vision 2025
Click to download PDF.

WSF directs its annual funding to areas of greatest need, which is guided by our Conservation Vision 2025. WSF raises funding through a number of sources, and directs our mission funding through various conservation programs, including our Grant-In-Aid program.
 
Collectively, our Conservation Programs focus on these actions to maintain and enhance wild sheep populations:
   
 

Bighorn Sheep Historic Distribution

In his classic monograph “The Bighorn Sheep in the United States, Its Past, Present, and Future”, Helmut K. Buechner included a map (circa 1850) depicting approximate bighorn sheep distribution prior to European settlement of the West.
 
Historic distribution of bighorn sheep in North America
Click to download PDF of historic distribution.
Using diverse published and unpublished sources, WSF Conservation Staff modified Buechner’s map to also include historic bighorn sheep distribution in Canada and Mexico. Buechner also included a map (circa 1960) showing much-reduced bighorn distribution; WSF staff again modified Buechner’s 1960 map to reflect then-extant bighorn sheep distribution in Canada and Mexico. In 2012, the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Wild Sheep Working Group, using more refined GIS mapping applications, carefully mapped current distribution of bighorn sheep in the same 14 western states that Buechner had mapped, plus added the state of Texas. WSF Conservation Staff again added current bighorn distribution for Canada and Mexico to the WAFWA 2012 map, to portray current North American-wide bighorn sheep distribution.

Bighorn distribution was dramatically reduced between 1850 – 1960, but through collaborative efforts between conservation organizations such as the Wild Sheep Foundation and our network of Chapters and Affiliates, state, provincial, and tribal/First Nation fish and game departments, public and Crown land-management agencies, private landowners, and other supporters, North American bighorn distribution has greatly increased over the past ~60 years. Commensurate with increased distribution, in that six-decade time period, North American bighorn sheep population estimates have more than tripled from fewer than 25,000 to currently more than 90,000.
 

WSF CONSERVATION VIDEOS

Watch our current feature conservation project video below and visit our YouTube Conservation Playlist to see all of our videos.
 

 
WSF World Headquarters | 412 Pronghorn Trail | Bozeman, MT 59718 USA | Phone: 406.404.8750 (800-OK-FNAWS) | Email: info@wildsheepfoundation.org

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