Wild Sheep Foundation raises nearly $5 million for wild sheep conservation


Photo credit: Dreamstime

Nearly $5 million was raised for wild sheep conservation during the Wild Sheep Foundation’s (WSF) 45th annual convention. The yearly auction helps raise funds for state, provincial, territorial and tribal wildlife agencies. This year, 12 permits alone raised $2,274,500, according to a press release.

“This was another big year for state, provincial, territorial, and tribal wildlife conservation efforts,” said Gray N. Thornton, WSF’s president and CEO. “The fact that a handful of individuals stepped at these levels to benefit entire populations in exchange for the opportunity to hunt one special animal is the definition of paying it forward. That’s the definition of conservation.”

New auction tag records include:

  • $285,000 ¬– Taos Pueblo Rocky Mountain bighorn, Gorge Hunt ($200,000 in 2021)
  • $305,000 –Wyoming Rocky Mountain bighorn ($135,000 in 2021)
  • $310,000 – New Mexico Rocky Mountain bighorn ($240,000 in 2021)
  • $210,000 – New Mexico Desert bighorn ($193,000 in 2021)
  • $80,000 – Navajo Nation (61,000 in 2021)
  • $200,000 – Taos Pueblo Rocky Mountain bighorn (tie $200,000 in 2021)
  • $187,500 – Colorado Mountain bighorn ($180,000 in 2021)
  • $175,000 – Nevada Desert bighorn ($165,000 in 2021
  • $32,500 – Nevada Pronghorn ($27,500 in 2021)
  • $345,000 – Oregon Rocky Mountain bighorn ($60,000 in 2017)
  • $67,500 – Wyoming Moose ($210,000 in 2021)
  • $77,000 – Nebraska Elk ($33,000 in 2020)

In total, the annual tag auction raised $4,794,000 during three evening auctions. Depending on the type of permit, 85% to 100% of the funds go directly to fish and wildlife agencies for big game species conservation, management and enhancement programs, according to WSF. The balance is used to continue WSF’s wild sheep and habitat conservation mission programs. 

“WSF is privileged to be able to market and sell these special permits,” said Thornton. “Wild sheep would simply not exist in the numbers they are today without this specialized economy built for their benefit. This isn’t about maintaining populations; we’re looking to grow them, and the generosity of sheep hunters is absolutely making this possible.”

Other auction highlights include:

  • $360,000 – Montana Rocky Mountain bighorn
  • $230,000 – Yukon/Kluane Dall’s sheep 
  • $240,000 – New Mexico Big Game Enhancement Package 
  • $235,000 – Alberta Minister's Rocky Mountain bighorn 
  • $120,000 – California Rocky Mountain bighorn, Cady Mountains
  • $300,000 – Arizona Rocky Mountain bighorn
  • $165,000 – Idaho Rocky Mountain bighorn, non-Hells Canyon
  • $165,000 – British Columbia Rocky Mountain bighorn

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