For the past 25 years, bighorn sheep in the Tendoy Hunting District of Montana have been plagued with pneumonia. This disease is a top cause of mortality among the sheep and is extremely difficult to eradicate from a herd, since it can be carried by healthy members. The Tendoy sheep first became ill in 1993 and experienced another large-scale die-off in 1997. Since then, attempts have been made three times to bring new sheep into the herd, with no success.
This June, FWP proposed to depopulate the region of the remaining 30 to 40 sheep with the help of local hunters. If this legislation is passed, no quota will be issued and the hunting season will take place from the first Saturday in September of 2015 to the Sunday after Thanksgiving. Licenses will cost $125 for residents and $750 for non-residents. All harvesting will need to be reported to the FWP and all rams of one-half curls or greater will have to have their horns plugged to show they were hunted legally.
After the hunting period is over, FWP will remove all remaining Tendoy bighorns by aerial gunning, with the meat being donated to local food banks. The area will be repopulated with a healthy herd of about 50 Montana sheep the winter after the complete depopulation is finished.
A public meeting was held to discuss the proposal in May, with twelve individuals in attendance. The final decision on this matter was made in early July, and Montana’s Fish and Wildlife Commission has approved the sale of over-the-counter bighorn sheep licenses for Hunting District 315. Licenses are available for purchase for two weeks, beginning August 3.