Tuesday, January 24, 2023

More Records Fall During Sheep Show

Bozeman, Montana. January 23, 2023. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) recently concluded its 46th annual convention, the Sheep Show®, with record amounts raised again for wild sheep conservation initiatives.

At this premier event for raising reliable annual funding for these programs, one highlight is the auctioning of special conservation permits offered by state, provincial, territorial, and tribal wildlife agencies. This year nine permits were sold for record amounts. From these nine permits alone, $2,730,000 million was raised.

“This will be another big year for our agency partners and their wild sheep conservation efforts,” said Gray N. Thornton, president and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. “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.”

The new records and the total amounts raised by WSF from these permits include:

  • Washington California Bighorn Permit

$290,000 Record $200,000 in 2021 $2,480,000 raised since 1994

  • New Mexico Big Game Enhancement Package

$320,000 Record $270,000 in 2020 $1,430,000 raised since 2012

  • Colorado Bighorn Permit

$320,000 Record $187,000 in 2022 $2,943,000 raised since 1989

  • Oregon Bighorn Permit

$370,000 Record $345,000 2022 $3,987,500 raised since 1992

  • Idaho Rocky Bighorn Permit inc. Unit 11 Hells Canyon

$320,000 Record $310,000 2021 $3,381,500 raised since 1988

  • Alberta Minister’s Bighorn Permit

$375,000 Record $235,000 in 2022 $5,256,000 raised since 1995

  • Navajo Desert Bighorn Permit

$85,000 Record $80,000 2022 $1,374,000 raised since 1995

  • Nebraska Bighorn Permit

$370,000 Record $330,000* 2022 $1,105,000 raised since 1999

  • New Mexico Bighorn Permit

$280,000 Record $210,000 2022 $4,605,500 raised since 2013

* sold at Iowa FNAWS banquet

Money raised goes toward wild sheep management and enhancement programs. These include trap and translocations to establish new herds or augment existing ones, habitat improvements including water developments, herd population, health surveillance and testing, and research.

In all, a Sheep Show permit auction record of $4,902,500 was raised from conservation permits alone from three evening auctions. Depending on the permit, eighty-five to one hundred percent of these funds will be directed to these fish and wildlife agencies for wild sheep and other big game species conservation, management, and enhancement programs. The balance that WSF retains is also directed to wild sheep and habitat conservation through its own mission programs. Agencies depend on these funds and the Wild Sheep Foundation to raise them. According to the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies, 74% of all wildlife agency wild sheep conservation funding comes from either an auction or raffle conservation permit.

Other Sheep Show® auction highlights include:

  • Montana Bighorn Permit

$320,000 Record $480,000 2013 $8,340,000 raised since 1986

  • New Mexico Desert Bighorn Permit

$200,000 Record $270,000 2022 $2,170,500 raised since 2013

  • Arizona Desert Bighorn Permit

$270,000 Record $315,000 2021 $6,977,000 raised since 1984

  • British Columbia Minister’s Special Permit

$270,000 Record $275,00 2013 & 2021 $3,819,500 raised since 2000

  • Taos Pueblo Rocky Bighorn Permit

$260,000 Record $285,000 2022 $4,013,000 raised since 2006

“WSF is honored to be able to market and sell these special permits,” Thornton explained. “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.”

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 hunting permits and tags issued to sportsmen annually by agencies represent a harvest of only 1-3 percent of the total wild sheep population if hunters are 100% successful.


The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 10,500 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $140 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”®. These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today. www.wildsheepfoundation.org.

Media Contacts: Keith R. Balfourd www.wildsheepfoundation.org 406-404-8750