For those of you who have seen an auction for a wild sheep tag before, you knew that this was going to be a big deal.
This being my first trip to the Wild Sheep Foundation banquet, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been warned that this could go for $75,000 – $80,000, but the potential to break 100k was there. That boggled my mind.
Sure enough, the fast and furious bidding (which you’ll be able to hear on this week’s MNSJ Radio show), went up quickly. Things finally started to slow at $90,000, then inched up by $1000 increments. Breaking that mark was starting to come into doubt, but after a few tense moments filled with “hoorays” and “hollers” and growing applause, we hit it and surpassed it. Things topped out at the staggering $102,000 and one lucky attendee will be hunting sheep in 2013 in South Dakota.
Now before you say, why would anyone pay that amount to hunt in the state next to us, let’s be clear, the mission of the Wild Sheep Foundation and it’s members is to “put more sheep on the mountain.” That includes transporting sheep, repopulating areas that have seen diminished numbers and improving habitat. In one word: conservation.
100% of the $102,000 will go directly to the South Dakota Game, Fish and Park’s sheep programs. Every cent will go to help the sheep population in South Dakota. These auctions have been a huge resource for the various wildlife divisions during a time when each are struggling for funding. The Minnesota DNR’s money woes are well documented. Increased license fees have been one way to combat that.
In neighboring North Dakota, the Game and Fish department is also looking for additional ways to increase their much needed revenue base, while North Dakota has a huge pile of money sitting in surplus with additional revenue gushing in from the oil and energy development companies. Their sheep programs got a big shot in the arm with a $75,000 RECORD sheep tag auction at the banquet yesterday.
A Wyoming tag and many other once-in-a-lifetime hunts were auctioned off to help raise money for the Wild Sheep Foundation. Hats off to Curt Babler and the rest of the MIdwest Chapter for their sold out event. This year was shortened to one day and there was a bit of worry about how it would turn out. Overall, they were encouraged and offered a positive prediction for next year’s event. They’re expecting attendance numbers to increase and are planning on having more to accommodate them.
To learn more about the Wild Sheep Foundation – Midwest Chapter, visit http://www.fnawsmnwi.org
Here are some pictures from the event: