4 New Mexico sheep tags bring $500,000 for conservation


Large desert bighorn sheep
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Bighorn sheep are one of the most threatened of the western big game species. Whether it is disease due to close encounters with domestic sheep, high predation or loss of prime habitat, bighorns are in need of some help. 

Thanks to a recent auction and raffle of four bighorn sheep hunting licenses, which brought in almost a half million dollars for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish (NMDGF) bighorn sheep program, there will be plenty of available funding to focus on research, restoration, predator control and other related aspects that will help bighorn growth and recovery.

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With more than 7,000 tickets sold, the raffle earned $143,000 for the NMDGF bighorn sheep program. According to Eric Rominger, a bighorn sheep biologist for the NMDGF, the raffle was more successful this year than last, with twice as many $20 tickets sold for a chance to hunt either a Rocky Mountain or desert bighorn sheep. Two hunters won the prized bighorn sheep permits thanks to the New Mexico chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, who held the raffle in June.

In January, the auctions of a desert bighorn license and a Rocky Mountain bighorn license together brought in another $330,000 to the department’s program, Rominger said.

Like its neighboring states, New Mexico bighorn sheep have reached dramatically low numbers due to domestic livestock diseases and mountain lion predation. While the raffle may seem an odd solution to the current situation, the money raised will be funneled back into the overall recovery of the bighorn sheep within the New Mexico landscape, which will allow the state to continue its efforts to build healthy herds and establish enough desert bighorn sheep to remain off the state’s endangered species list for years to come.


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