Department Receives $100,000 for Bighorn Sheep Management

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Three checks totaling nearly $100,000 were given to the North Dakota Game and Fish Department at the March 18 Minnesota-Wisconsin Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep annual meeting in Minneapolis.

North Dakota's 2006 bighorn sheep auction license sold for a record $49,500, an increase of $6,500 from last year. Along with an annual grant of $25,000, the Minnesota-Wisconsin conservation group also presented $23,000 to Game and Fish for two in-state bighorn transplants, and one transplant of sheep from Montana, all accomplished last January.

The funds will be used to enhance management of North Dakota's bighorn sheep, said Brett Wiedmann, big game biologist, Dickinson. "Minnesota-Wisconsin FNAWS continues to be a strong supporter of bighorn sheep management efforts in North Dakota," Wiedmann said. "They see all the gains we have made, and their enthusiasm is reflected on a national level by the interest shown in our auction tag."

Three bidders went all the way up to $48,000 for the hunting license, Wiedmann said. "It was amazing to see that," he added. "You couldn't help but smile. It is a real indication of how others view our efforts in North Dakota."

The grant and license auction are part of a 10-year agreement, signed in 1999, between the department and the Minnesota-Wisconsin conservation group.

The total number of bighorn sheep hunting licenses in North Dakota was increased in 2006 from four to six. One is auctioned by Minnesota-Wisconsin FNAWS and five are issued by lottery.