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Sheep Hunt Set for Hells Canyon

The Idaho Fish and Game Commission has approved a hunt for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Unit 11, home range of some of the largest rams in North America. Commissioners accepted a department recommendation to allow one permit in the Unit 11 hunt. Two permits could be allowed, assuming the holder of the lottery or auction tag wants to hunt there. Each year, the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) sells one Idaho bighorn tag at its national annual convention. In addition, the Idaho chapter of FNAWS sells tickets to a lottery in which one more bighorn tag is awarded. Funds raised by FNAWS pays for bighorn sheep capture and transplant and for habitat improvements. The Idaho chapter uses most of the money it raises to support sheep health research. Commissioners decided the lottery winner could hunt in Unit 11 in even years and in odd years the auction winner could hunt there. If the holder of the eligible tag chooses not to hunt in Unit 11, the opportunity would go to the other tag holder. Sheep hunters are likely to see the Unit 11 hunt as one of the most desirable. In a recent count, 13 large rams were observed in the unit. "Sportsmen should be delighted to see Unit 11 reopened," according to Wildlife Program Coordinator Dale Towiell. "Not only is the area known for growing huge rams, but more importantly, the population is rapidly recovering from a decline in the late eighties".