Reno's Wild Sheep Convention Opens - KTVN Channel 2 - Reno Tahoe Sparks News, Weather, Video

Reno's Wild Sheep Convention Opens

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For 27 years they've been coming here, choosing us after 3 others places. Wild Sheep Foundation President and CEO Gray Thornton told us, “We’ve been several times to Phoenix, 1 time in Nashville and 1 time in Hawaii…but Reno's really our home. Not enough sheep in Hawaii."

It’s a natural. Nevada is home to more bighorn sheep than any other state, and people at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center love to see them. Attendee Frederick David told me, "They're fast, they're rugged. The environment that they live in is real harsh and you wonder how they survive." Also attending, Harley Anderson:  "They're just kind of a magnificent animal to watch." And Eric Johnson: "You know, a mountain's not complete without wild sheep on it."

Every animal certainly has its fans. These folks are partial to wild sheep. And in talking with them, you develop a healthy respect for these creatures yourself. That's how the first Wild Sheep Convention happened 40 years ago, and why it's still growing. As Thornton told us, "Our membership is growing." Why does he think that is? "Because we're doing a darn good job putting and keeping sheep on the mountain, and they're happy about it."

Frederick, Harley and Eric come to the show every year. With 10,000 expected, it's one of the biggest conventions in Reno. Over 400 exhibits fill the convention center, with folks buying everything from furniture to firearms. As Thornton told us, “You can buy archery equipment, optics, wildlife art, jewelry, furs..." Thornton answered what's a paradox for many: how can a group that wants bighorn sheep to thrive, support the hunting and killing of them? "The hunting take on wild sheep is only about 2-3% of the population. There's only a very limited number of tags, and we are a conservation group"

We also found knives, camouflage, lots of taxidermy and camping equipment. You can even buy a bighorn sheep door knocker: $695. All the outdoor gear you can imagine…it’s almost like an amusement park for hunters. There’s also a bit of Reno there for the out-of-towners. The Wilbur May Museum's has a booth, and so do 2 Reno-based organizations: Nevada Outfitters with 80 members, and Nevada Bighorns Unlimited with 2,000. After all, Nevada has more wild sheep than any other state. Harley Anderson told us, "It’s kind of an exciting place to go through and spend the day." Eric Johnson agreed: "Absolutely, you don't want to miss it!"

The convention is open to all. Admission is $15. The foundation expects to raise more than $6 million in conservation money this year, to...as they put it, "Keep the wild sheep on the mountain."

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