No Nebraska Bighorn Season in 2012

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Nebraska Game and Parks Commission has decided in the best interest of herd health to not hold a hunt for bighorn sheep in 2012. There are two different herds in the Panhandle region; the Fort Robinson herd and the Wildcat Hills herd. The Fort Robinson herd has the older rams, which hunters have preferred hunting in previous years, putting stress on the numbers.

Bighorns were reintroduced to Nebraska in 1981, after the bighorns had disappeared due to disease, habitat loss, and unregulated hunting. Discussions have begun once again of bringing in more bighorns from Alberta, Canada early next year. From Rapid City Journal.


hunter25's picture

I didn't read th eentire

I didn't read th eentire article but the forst thing I wodered was how far back does the unregulated hunting go that they referred to? It made it sound likenot all that long ago. Anyway it's a good idea in my opinion to put things on hold till they get the population back under control. Hopefully it won't take to long with the measures being taken but I doubt the very few tags being offered in the past had a very big impact on what has happened now. It seems bighorns have a tougher time with disease and such than other animals out there. A pretty delicate species really. I wonder if this also affects any auction tag they may have had as well because I think they sold one last year for a huge amount of money. Miney that could be used to help with other Bighorn restoration projects in the State. Hopefully they can get it under control nad get the herds back up to huntable levels in the not too distant future. Not many people will ever get the tag but it gives something for guys to dream about.

COMeatHunter's picture

I'm glad I'm not collecting

I'm glad I'm not collecting points for a Nebraska big horn hunt.  I would like this is a sign of things to come for the next several years.  If they are talking about needing to introduce more animals to the herds, I would think hunting is off the table until the herds are growing steadily again.  

I would agree with Retired, if the Nebraska DOW didn't see this coming awhile ago it would be concerning.  Their management should be a little more proactive than that.

Ca_Vermonster's picture

Being a member of a Nebraska

Being a member of a Nebraska hunting forum too, I have seen a couple of photos of rams taken there.  Some nice animals, but few and far between.  Those tags are coveted.

Sad to see that they have to withold a hunt for them next year, but it's for the best.  It seems that Bighorn populations in most western states are very low. I know that in California, we only have maybe 8-10 tags, maximum.  There are a couple of units where they have 1 tag, and in some years they also don't hold a hunt, much like Nebraska is doing.

Hopefully a season or 2 off from hunting will allow them to rebound.  The good thing, is that there are so few tags alloted for these, that there will be very few people affected by this.  Most people put in, but never really expect to draw anyway.  It will just be like every other year.

SGM's picture

To be honost I did not even

To be honost I did not even know Nebraska had big horns. It is cool that the local DNR is trying to reestablish them in their historic range. If not having a season is in the best interest of the herd then that is sound wildlife management. Hope they can get control of the disease that is killing the sheep so they can open up a season for hunters.

Retired2hunt's picture

  Not good if the state's


Not good if the state's wildlife management didn't see this coming.  In the last 6 years the state reintroduced 100 Bighorn to the area - here is the article of information -

"In January 2005, 49 sheep from Montana were released in the Pine Ridge east of Crawford on Bighorn WMA. We expect that these sheep will add genetic diversity to the Pine Ridge population and speed colonization of unused sheep habitat. The death of 9 adult ewes and survival of 17 lambs leave us with a current population of 57.  In January 2007, 51 bighorn sheep from Montana were released in the Wildcat Hills south of McGrew. This release allows bighorns to occupy habitat in the Eastern Wildcat Hills."

Here is the link for anyone interested in more info -

Obviously with only an estimated total of a total Bighorn population approaching 300 animals from last 4 year' data that most likely has not generated a healthy enough of a herd to hold a tag draw anytime soon without reintroducing some more animals.  This will be the 4th year that Bighorn tags were not made available.  2006, 2007, and 2010 were also closed due to disease killing numbers.  And obviously poaching most likely had something to do with this as well.  Hopefully the funds are there for another large group of Big Horn to be purchased and reintroduced for another effort to establish a healthy enough herd to bring back a Bighorn season on 2013 or maybe a year afterwards.