Sheep, Guns And Helicopters

The Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's capturing bighorn sheep with a helicopter and transporting them to the Big Bend State Park as part of a project ironically funded by hunting the sheep. Everything's bigger and better in Texas, even environmentalism.

The helicoptering of wild sheep, while awesome, is only a small part of the reintroduction of the bighorn sheep to Texas. They were mostly wiped out in the 1960s due to hunting and diseases from livestock. Through a partnership with state organizations and a Mexican cement manufacturer, relocations have helped the stock grow to about 2/3rds of the original amount in Texas. This move should help restore the natural ecosystem.

And where'd the money for this come? Mostly from hunting sheep. Let's let the TPWD explain:

Hunting provides most of the money to restore bighorns and their habitat. Every year the Wild Sheep Foundation and Dallas Safari Club auction permits to hunt wild bighorn sheep in Texas, which sell for $70,000 to $115,000 per permit. Money raised goes to support research and habitat management for Texas bighorn restoration.

Sheep, Guns And HelicoptersThe last two years Texas has issued 16 sheep hunting permits annually. Permits depend on annual population surveys and are issued for state and private lands where harvestable rams are observed. A harvestable ram is an older, 7-to-12 year old male that has "done his thing" and is deemed surplus to the population. Through this system, TPWD typically receives 20-to-25 percent of sheep permits for public hunts on the Black Gap, Elephant Mt. and Sierra Diablo WMAs, with private landowners receiving the remaining permits.

TPWD also offers a chance for anyone to hunt bighorns through the Texas Grand Slam in the agency's Big Time Texas Hunts program, which sells $10 entries for random drawings to award "dream hunts." The grand slam winner gets guided hunts for all four of the state's top big game animals, including bighorn sheep.

God Bless Texas.

[TPWD via Fayza]