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Funds from auction sheep tag to grow new herd

South Dakota bighorn sheep
Photo Credit: Getty Images

In a committee meeting on Wednesday, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks Department officials told state lawmakers that they will use $80,000 from the auction of a hunting license for one bighorn sheep to establish a new herd of bighorn sheep near Deadwood as early as this winter. 

This is the second time South Dakota has auctioned off a bighorn sheep license to support the state’s sheep program. The first time was in 2013, when the auction was won by Jeff Demaske from Colorado. Three bighorn sheep licenses are issued annually: two by a lottery system and one by auction.

Last year the $102,000 received from the bighorn sheep auction license funded a project to import 20 bighorn sheep from Montana. 

To obtain the sheep for the new Deadwood herd, the Department is coordinating with authorities in Alberta, Canada, according to Tony Leif, director of the Division of Wildlife. South Dakota will not pay for the animals, just for the contractor to collect and transport them.

If things go as planned, the people of South Dakota could see a new population of bighorn sheep near Deadwood by this winter.

Additional funds from auction license sales will also go toward a double fence program to better separate domestic sheep herds and safeguard the health of the wild ones to prevent the outbreak of pneumonia, which is the number one cause of death of wild sheep. 

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