sheep record

New Bighorn Sheep Record is Testimony to Conservation

Peek in on the recent Wild Sheep Foundation and Boone and Crockett Club ceremony, which honored a new bighorn sheep record.

Two exceptional bighorn sheep were found in Montana's Wild Horse Island State Park last year. The dead heads, or pick-up trophies, turned out to be bigger than the existing sheep record. That fact is a testament to sound wildlife and habitat conservation in Montana.

The entry of these bighorn sheep horn measurements into the record book speaks to a couple of things:

First, the measurements are indicators of the quality of the habitat that the sheep inhabit. Horns are, in essence, a physical expression of the quality of habitat. The measurements also provide valuable information on whether a habitat conservation program is working or needs to be adjusted.

Second, it speaks to the quality and health of the species itself. The sheep's biology, genetics, longevity and resistance to disease are of course also connected to the quality of their habitat.

Wild Sheep Foundation president Gray Thornton reinforced this testimony to the efficacy of Montana's sheep conservation program. He said that from a source stock of only 10 bighorns, 561 sheep have been exported and transplanted to other sheep-deprived areas over the last 60 years.

These animals weren't shot by hunters, but rather were pick-up trophies. Their acceptance into the record book is also in keeping with the Boone and Crockett ethos, where the emphasis is on the animal.

Boone and Crockett's chief of staff, Tony Schoonen, summed it up nicely when he said, "This special animal is proof that our wildlife management model is working."

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