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Montana's Draft Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy

Montana's draft Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy, which sets the overall direction of bighorn sheep management in Montana for the next 10 years, draws together in one document the history of the state's Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from decline to recovery.

It also offers key narrative histories of all existing herds, including past and current management and the opportunities and challenges facing each population. Each narrative fully describes the factors in play when FWP considers hunting-license and harvest-quota levels.

For wildlife managers, the strategy outlines how FWP will monitor herd health and the status and condition of bighorn sheep habitat. It provides guidelines for trapping and transplanting bighorns and a process to help identify areas that might be suitable for transplanting bighorn sheep now and into the future.

The strategy establishes eight statewide objectives, yet seeks to remain flexible enough to incorporate new ideas, technological and scientific advances. Most important, it allows managers to adapt to changes in bighorn populations and their habitats as they occur.

While Montana has never before produced a comprehensive plan for bighorn sheep management, it has a 60-year history of successfully reestablishing bighorn populations across the state. That success has helped Montana to acquire an international reputation for managing robust bighorn sheep populations.

There are now 45 populations of bighorns across Montana with 36 sustaining limited hunting. Officials estimate that 5,700 bighorn sheep inhabit Montana excluding Yellowstone and Glacier national parks.

The new draft strategy tackles a number of wildlife management concerns, including:

  • occasional large-scale die-offs often associated with contact with domestic sheep or goats
  • systematic long-term health monitoring
  • genetic integrity of native populations
  • establishing bighorn sheep populations to new areas
  • loss of habitat and development impacts to some bighorn populations
  • hunting and other recreational opportunities

Explore Montana's Bighorn Sheep Strategy

Compact Disk: To receive a CD of the conservation plan, call FWP at (406) 444-2612.

Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy

Complete Version

Download of this file may take several minutes even with a HIGH SPEED connection.

pgs i-311

5.7 MB

Table of Contents, includes cover

pgs i-vii

221 KB

Contributions and Acknowledgments

pgs viii-1

58 KB
81 KB

Executive Summary

pgs 2-6

92 KB

Chapter 1

The history bighorn sheep in Montana and the overall direction for the future.

pgs 7-30

641 KB

Population Monitoring & Management

pgs 31-40

133 KB

Health Monitoring & Management

pgs 41-56

160 KB

Translocation Program

pgs 57-64

2.2 MB

Habitat Monitoring & Management

pgs 65-73

402 KB

Law Enforcement

pgs 74-75

35 KB

Chapter 2

Individual management plans for bighorn populations in each of Montana’s bighorn sheep hunting districts, and for five small populations not currently hunted.

pgs 76-77

155 KB

Region 1

pgs 78-120

369 KB

Region 2

pgs 120-165

350 KB

Region 3

pgs 166-216

342 KB

Region 4

pgs 217-246

214 KB

Region 5

pgs 247-262

150 KB

Region 6

pgs 263-275

204 KB

Region 7

pgs 276-278

122 KB

Literature Cited

pgs 279-288

143 KB


pgs 289-311

471 KB