Bighorn Tag Sells for $180,000

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Idaho's bighorn sheep program recently received its highest ever boost from the sale of one bighorn tag.

The Idaho tag sold for $180,000 at the annual Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) convention in Reno. The previous high for an Idaho tag was $101,000 in 1996. At this year's event, the Idaho tag was second highest among western states and provinces. The Arizona tag brought $199,000. Last year, the Idaho tag went for $46,000 when the hunt excluded Hells Canyon's Unit 11.

Two Idaho tags are approved each year by the Fish and Game Commission to raise money for bighorn programs. The auction tag is sold at the FNAWS convention to raise funds for sheep restoration, mainly in the Hells Canyon Initiative. The tag sold by the Idaho chapter of FNAWS through a lottery system brings in money for bighorn health research at the Caldwell wildlife lab.

Bighorn program manager Dale Toweill said this "is a great time. It is a clear example of hunting supporting bighorn sheep conservation and restoration. This benefits all Idahoans, whether they hunt or not.

"These license dollars will support habitat restoration, noxious weed control, research, and transplant that will help ensure that Idaho's bighorn sheep prosper now and in the future.

"Idaho's bighorn sheep program receives no tax dollars. This auction allows Fish and Game to focus squarely on bighorn sheep."

This year's Idaho tag was purchased by a Spokane, WA hunter.

The total for the FNAWS auction, including the Idaho amount, came to more than $2 million to be spent in the west for bighorn management.

FNAWS efforts in Idaho are focused on Hells Canyon in an initiative with Oregon and Washington to restore bighorns to the largest area of wild sheep habitat remaining in the lower 48 states.