The either-sex bighorn licenses – valid for hunting district 315 (Tendoy Mtns) – will be available for purchase for a two week period beginning August 3. The licenses will cost $125 for residents and $750 for nonresidents. The archery-only season will run from September 5 through September 14, while the general season will run September 15 through November 29. The goal of the hunt is to remove the entire population of bighorn sheep, which has struggled with disease issues since 1993. Once this removal is complete, a new disease-free group of sheep will be transplanted into the area.
Hunters interested in purchasing a bighorn sheep license for the Tendoys should note the following:
- Hunters successfully harvesting a ram or lamb (of either sex) as part of this hunt will have to wait seven years before applying for another bighorn license;
- Hunters that have harvested a ram in the previous six years cannot take a ram or lamb in this hunt;
- Harvested rams must be brought to FWP to be checked (rams of ½-curl or larger will receive an identifying plug by FWP in one of the horns);
- All hunters harvesting any sheep in this district must call the Harvest Reporting Line at 1-877-FWP-WILD (877-397-9453) within 48 hours of the kill;
- FWP will contact license holders and request their help in collecting biological samples from harvested bighorns to assess herd health;
- Hunting District 315 boundaries were shrunk in 2015 and no longer include the Beaverhead Mountains south of Pass Creek;
- There may be high concentrations of hunters in this area especially around season opening and closing dates.
“There has been significant interest in this hunting opportunity both from residents and nonresidents,” said Fager. “We anticipate the majority of bighorns will be harvested pretty quickly; however, this is a new form of sheep management in Montana and there is a chance that some sheep will survive into October and November. Hunters should recognize that opportunity will diminish as the fall progresses. I encourage individuals that are interested in this unique opportunity to assess their own ability to scout the area prior to the season.”
Bighorn sheep in the Tendoys have experienced two pneumonia die-offs in the last 25 years. The population has been augmented three times since 1997, but the population has not rebounded because disease is likely being carried by some of the surviving sheep.
Fager confirms it make take up to two years to remove all the members of the current Tendoy bighorn sheep herd. Any not taken by hunters will be removed by FWP. Once depopulation is complete, about 50 bighorns from healthy populations will used to restock the area.