Nevada Man Wins Idaho Bighorn Sheep Tag

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Jim Ancho of Battle Mountain, Nevada, won the bighorn sheep tag in a drawing by the Idaho Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation.

"I'm rather shocked," Ancho said. "I've never had luck like this in my life so I'm just gonna' go for it."

Ancho will be able to hunt in any unit open to sheep hunting for Rocky Mountain or California bighorn in 2009, pursuant to Fish and Game rules - except Unit 11, Hells Canyon of the Snake River. Unit 11 is available to the lottery winner on alternating years.

"I'm going for the Rocky Mountain bighorn, because I've got the other three needed for the Grand Slam and right now I've got a lot of research to do," he said.

This year the foundation sold 7,605 tickets for the annual drawing, raising $57,982 for the state wildlife health lab.

The lottery is run by the Idaho chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation. Lottery tickets start at $10 and decrease in price for multiples bought, a system that allows hunters of moderate means to participate.

Money raised by the drawing supports Idaho's Wildlife Health Laboratory in Caldwell. The lab investigates wildlife diseases, such as brucellosis, chronic wasting disease, West Nile virus, bighorn sheep disease and other pathogens of concern to hunters and the livestock industry.

The lottery has raised more than $750,000 to support the Wildlife Health Laboratory since the program was begun in 1992. The foundation may keep a portion to operate and promote the lottery.

"This is a shining example of how sportsmen raise funds to give something back to all citizens of Idaho, hunters or not," said Dale Toweill, trophy species coordinator for Idaho Fish and Game. "These funds allow wildlife veterinarians to work with the Department of Agriculture on topics of concern to both the wildlife community and livestock interests, providing direct and indirect benefits to all Idahoans."

A hunting license and permit will be provided to the winner, who must be 18 years old and eligible to apply for a hunting license in Idaho. The once-in-a-lifetime rule is waived for this lottery tag.

The Wild Sheep Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization working to protect and restore bighorn sheep to historic habitats throughout Idaho.