Nevada Implements First Bighorn Sheep Ewe Hunt - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe News Weather, Video -

Nevada Implements First Bighorn Sheep Ewe Hunt

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Bighorn sheep ewe hunting will be allowed in Nevada, this year, for the first time in state history. The Department of Wildlife says the sheep are thriving to the point that they're facing issues of overpopulation.

Since 1968, their numbers have grown from 3,000 to 11,000. "Over the last 40 years, the Department of Wildlife has really lead the nation in restoring bighorn sheep of all three species into the mountains of Nevada," Chris Healy, NDOW Spokesman said.

Officials say the sheep have actually outgrown their habitat, and that the best way to reduce the herds is to hunt the ewes. "Proper wildlife management calls for you to reduce herds to a proper number that can survive and thrive on a piece of habitat," Healy said.

This year, more than 12,000 tags have been given out for female deer, elk, and antelope. They're recommending 100 ewe tags. "It's a tool we've used with other species but it's the first time we've had to use it with bighorn sheep," Healy said.

Healy says the ongoing drought has left less forage, and says reducing sheep numbers is necessary because many habitats don't have enough food to support the population. "Then you're going to have a sickly herd," Healy said. "And if you have a sickly herd, they're more prone to catching things like pneumonia and then you'll have a whole herd could disappear and die off on you."

Healy says there are concerns about allowing ewe hunting, but says education is key.
 
Hunters have already started putting in for ewe tags. While most will only get one ram tag in their lifetime, those numbers are also on the rise.
"We used to have 45-50 tags available for the whole state," Healy said. "Now, we have over 300 tags available. That's another sign of success."

Written by Paul Nelson

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