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Forum News Service, Published April 07 2014

Bighorn sheep population stable in western ND

BISMARCK — Western North Dakota’s bighorn sheep population barely changed from their last count, according to North Dakota Game and Fish Department biologists.

Game and Fish’s annual bighorn sheep survey revealed a minimum of 293 bighorn sheep, down only slightly from the previous count of 297.

Big game biologist Brett Wiedmann said the count in the northern Badlands was the highest on record, beating the previous record set in 2012, but the southern Badlands population declined 15 percent.

In total, biologists counted 85 rams, 159 ewes and 49 lambs. Thirty bighorns in the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and 24 others introduced from Alberta in February were not included in the county.

“Rams and lambs showed a slight decline, but adult ewes increased,” Wiedmann said.

Game and Fish Department biologists count and classify all bighorn sheep in late summer, and then recount lambs the following March, as they approach one year of age, to determine recruitment.

Game and Fish allocated five bighorn sheep hunting licenses for 2014, one more than 2013.