The Idaho bighorn auction permit brought $46,000 at the recent Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS) convention.
Jerry Tyrell, president of the Washington FNAWS chapter, bought the permit for the coming fall sheep hunt. Last year's permit sold for $36,500.
Idaho gives one bighorn sheep permit to FNAWS each year for its auction. Another permit is awarded through a lottery operated by the Idaho chapter of FNAWS.
The FNAWS auction has brought in more than $500,000 for Idaho's bighorn programs since its inception in 1988. All proceeds are deposited in an interest-bearing account dedicated to bighorn sheep restoration and management. The 1999 tag revenue is committed to the Hells Canyon Initiative, a long-term sheep project involving management by Idaho, Oregon and Washington wildlife and land management agencies in the Hells Canyon area. The effort has included transplanting bighorn sheep from Alberta and British Columbia as well as research on bighorn sheep diseases.
New herds in the area are expected to double within five years, according to FNAWS.
Idaho Fish and Game researchers are working on long-term studies of bighorn health as well as conducting aerial and ground surveys of Hells Canyon herds. A sightability model is currently under development to correct population numbers for sheep that are not observed during surveys. (The sightability model will be similar to models for elk and deer populations, a type of wildlife survey in which Idaho has been a national leader.)