Sporting Classics Daily recently ran the story of a mule deer tag that went for $410,000 at auction. While this Montana license for bighorn sheep didn’t go quite as high, $305,000 is still nothing to sneeze at.
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks auctioned off the license in January for the 2016 season. According to KPAX 8, the winning bidder was a member of the Wild Sheep Foundation. Of his bid, 90 percent — $274,500 — will go to the FWP’s sheep conservation efforts.
Each year, 150 sheep tags are issued for Montana via a lottery. Of those, less than one percent will be drawn, giving a select few a chance at the state’s roughly 5,000 sheep spread across 3.7 million acres — hence the astronomical fee associated with the auctions.
“This was created by the Legislature as a funding source to help with management with special species. I think what it really speaks to is just how special the opportunities we have in Montana are,” FWP Communications Director Ron Aasheim was quoted as saying.
The winning bid won’t set any records at the auction, though: The highest bid on a Montana sheep hunt was set in 2013, when Douglas Leech paid $480,000 for the privilege of hunting the mountain kings. In 2014 and 2015 the licenses were auctioned for $320,000 each.
All of the winning bidders for the last eight years have been affiliated with the Wild Sheep Foundation, putting their money back into conservation through hunting. If every license sold contributed the same 90 percent to the FWP as the 2016 one did, the WSF winners will have contributed $2,281,500 to sheep conservation over the last eight years.
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