The North Dakota Game and Fish Department is allocating three bighorn sheep licenses for the 2018 hunting season, two fewer than 2017.
One license is available in Unit B3 and one in B4. Also, one license, as authorized under North Dakota Century Code, was auctioned in spring by the Midwest Chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation, from which all proceeds are used to enhance bighorn sheep management in North Dakota.
Similar to last year, Game and Fish announced in February that the status of the bighorn sheep hunting season would be determined after completion of the summer population survey. Now that the survey is complete, the bighorn lottery was held and successful applicants were notified.
Prospective hunters were required to apply for a bighorn license earlier this year on the bighorn sheep, moose and elk application.
The number of once-in-a-lifetime licenses allotted to hunters is based on data collected from the Department’s recently completed summer population survey. Results of the survey showed a total of 77 rams, 12 fewer than 2017 and 27 fewer than 2016.
Brett Wiedmann, Game and Fish big game management biologist in Dickinson, said the 13 percent decline in ram numbers is likely the result of an ongoing bacterial pneumonia outbreak that was first detected in 2014.
“In addition, 2017 had the second lowest lamb recruitment on record so only four yearling rams were observed,” Wiedmann said. “Encouragingly, no adult animals within the herds that were exposed to disease in 2014 showed clinical signs of pneumonia, and the summer lamb count in those herds improved.”