The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is allocating five bighorn sheep licenses for the 2017 hunting season, three fewer than 2016.
Two licenses are available in Unit B3 and two in B4. Also, one license, as authorized under North Dakota Century Code, was auctioned in spring by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.
The number of once-in-a-lifetime licenses allotted to hunters is based on data collected from the Department’s recently completed summer population survey. Results of the survey showed a total of 83 rams, or 21 fewer than 2016.
Brett Wiedmann, Department big game management biologist in Dickinson, said the 20 percent decline in ram numbers is the result of an ongoing bacterial pneumonia outbreak that was first detected in 2014.
“In addition, 2016 had the lowest lamb recruitment on record so very few yearling rams were observed,” Wiedmann said. “Encouragingly, no adult animals within the herds that were exposed to disease in 2014 showed clinical signs of pneumonia, and the summer lamb count in those herds improved.”
Similar to last year, Game and Fish announced in February that the status of the bighorn sheep hunting season would be determined after completion of the summer population survey. Now that the survey is complete, the bighorn lottery was held and successful applicants were notified.
Prospective hunters were required to apply for a bighorn license earlier this year on the bighorn sheep, moose and elk application.