New Mexico Department of Game and Fish
Media contact: Dan Williams, (505) 476-8004
Public contact: (888) 248-6866



SANTA FE – The auction and raffle of four bighorn sheep hunting licenses brought in close to a half million dollars for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish bighorn sheep program this year.

Two lucky hunters won prized bighorn sheep permits in a record-breaking raffle conducted by the New Mexico chapter of the Wild Sheep Foundation in June. The raffle sold more than 7,000 tickets and earned $143,000 for the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish’s bighorn sheep program, said Eric Rominger, bighorn sheep biologist for the department. Twice as many $20 raffle tickets were sold this year than last year for the chance to hunt for either a Rocky Mountain or desert bighorn sheep, Rominger said.

In January, the auctions of a desert bighorn license and a Rocky Mountain bighorn license together brought in another $330,000 to the department’s program, Rominger said.

Proceeds will go to the department’s bighorn sheep program and will be used for research, restoration, predator control and other operations, Rominger said.

New Mexico’s desert bighorn sheep population was nearly wiped out by market hunting, domestic livestock diseases and mountain lion predation. Fewer than 70 animals remained statewide by 1980, prompting New Mexico to add the desert bighorn to its endangered species list. Today, transplanting efforts and cougar control have helped establish herds across southern New Mexico. By 2011 there were enough desert bighorn sheep in the state to enable their removal from the state endangered species list.

Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep had already disappeared from New Mexico by the early 1900s.

But the animals have since rebounded through efforts by the department with funds from hunters and conservation groups.

Hundreds of bighorn sheep have been transplanted across the state to establish herds while mountain lions have been brought under control to limit predation losses.

For more information about hunting for bighorn sheep in New Mexico please visit the department website at