Bighorn Tag Lottery Sets Record

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The annual lottery for one Idaho bighorn sheep tag raised a record amount of money for research into bighorn health.

The Idaho chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) sold $101,468 in lottery tickets before the drawing was held at Fish and Game headquarters in Boise July 28. Last year's lottery raised about $60,000. This year, the lottery tag will allow hunting in the famous Unit 11 in Hells Canyon. The Unit 11 hunt rotates each year between the lottery tag and the tag that is auctioned at the FNAWS annual convention.

This year's winner was Butch Kuflak of Hermosa Beach, California. Two alternates were also drawn, one from Alaska and one from South Dakota. Ticket buyers from many states and several foreign countries tried for the one bighorn tag.

Idaho FNAWS members sell lottery tickets throughout the year for this annual drawing that entitles the winner to hunt a bighorn in any of this year's open sheep hunts in Idaho. The chapter can retain up to 25 percent of the money to fund administrative costs such as printing tickets and promoting the lottery. Sales of tickets for next July's drawing will begin in January.

Proceeds of the lottery go toward research into bighorn diseases done at the wildlife health laboratory in Caldwell. Idaho's work in wild sheep diseases - an effort involving Fish and Game researchers and university scientists with funding help from FNAWS¾is aimed at new knowledge about problems with wildlife health that have frustrated sheep advocates for years. This pioneering research may one day be applied to bighorn populations across the west.

The Idaho FNAWS Chapter has raised more than $330,000 since 1992 in research money through the annual bighorn sheep tag lottery.

The other Idaho bighorn tag is auctioned by FNAWS at its annual convention. Most of that money goes toward the Hells Canyon Initiative aimed at bringing back bighorn herds in one of the largest sheep habitats left in the U.S.