For the Arizona hunter whose ticket was pulled for the the 28th Annual Bighorn Sheep Tag Lottery, it represents the hunt of a lifetime. For the Idaho Department of Fish and Game, it means more than $100,000 in funding will benefit wild sheep conservation in Idaho.
The lucky winner of the 2019 Bighorn Sheep Tag Lottery was Andrew Tomlinson, a resident of Prescott, Ariz. The Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation held the drawing outside Fish and Game Headquarters in Boise on July 31. Tomlinson was one of around 1,000 people from across the nation who bought anywhere from one to several hundred chances. The winning ticket was drawn by Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever.
The lottery tag is offered under a partnership between Idaho Fish and Game and the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation, which has been hosting the bighorn lottery since 1992, with the proceeds going back to Fish and Game for bighorn sheep conservation.
In the 28 years that the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation has hosted the lottery, it has raised nearly $2 million. In recent years, the proceeds have helped Fish and Game with monitoring disease in bighorn sheep populations, preventing interaction between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep, and improving relationships between sportsmen and private landowners.
In 2019, the lottery raised over $109,000, the second-highest total ever, and the highest for a year in which the lottery tag cannot be used in Hunt Area 11 in Hell’s Canyon. This year, the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation donated all of the lottery proceeds to the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.
“Part of our agreement with Fish and Game is that, out of the gross sales, our costs up to 25 percent are covered by the proceeds of this tag,” said Zach Higgins, a member and past president of the Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation’s Board of Directors. “This year, we wanted to really step up and make a difference, so 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale is going to Fish and Game.”
Idaho Fish and Game Director Ed Schriever expressed his gratitude for the foundation’s additional voluntary contribution.
“The Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation’s decision to donate 100 percent of the proceeds from this year’s Bighorn Sheep Lottery demonstrates their commitment to our shared mission of preserving, protecting, perpetuating and managing bighorn sheep herds in Idaho. The foundation has long been a partner in this mission,” Schriever said.
“Over the past 28 years, the funding generated from the Bighorn Sheep Lottery has played a critical role in maintaining healthy bighorn sheep populations and providing continued opportunities for Idaho hunters. The additional $23,000 they elected to donate this year will help further these efforts, and we are thankful for the foundation’s generosity.”
The Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation is a non-profit organization formed to enhance wild sheep populations in Idaho, and with partners in adjacent states, for public enjoyment, education, and fair chase hunting, and to promote professional wildlife management, and protect sportsmen’s rights.
The Idaho Wild Sheep was founded in 1982 by two dozen concerned sportsmen who wanted to put more bighorns on Idaho’s mountains. From that core group, many of which are still very active on the board and committees, the organization has grown to a thriving group with over 600 members.
For more information please contact the Idaho WSF office at 208-345-6171 or visit their website at www.idahowildsheep.org