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From History: Other States Keeping Watch on Sheep Hunt

Since I was a kid, I have really enjoyed stories from history. It was one of my favorite subjects in school and it still is. I am a firm believer that we can connect to and learn so much from our past. This love of history made a logical progression to antique collecting. About two years ago, I was perusing an antique shop in Las Vegas, NM when I came across what appeared to be, at first glance, a book out on display. Upon further inspection I found that the ‘book’ was actually a collection of New Mexico Wildlife magazines from the 1950-60’s. This intrigued me due to my line of work. Long story short, I acquired the book  and have thoroughly enjoyed reading through it, and learning a small part of the history of wildlife management in my home state. Since Rodney and I just did a podcast on the remaining opportunities for hunts on public lands, I thought this was a good story to start with! If you have ever wondered how Barbary sheep were introduced into New Mexico, here it is!

New Mexico Wildlife Magazine – Volume 1: Number 1, December 1955

The Director at the time was the Famous Homer C. Pickens

From page 3: Other States Keeping Watch On Sheep Hunt – New Mexico is staging a hunt in early December that will be watched with interest by a number of other states, with an eye to a possible similar program. The hunt will be for Barbary sheep, a swift and graceful animal from the Mountains of North Africa whose habitat are as yet veiled in mystery..                        

Very little is known of the habits of the Barbary, which is a medium-sized animal weighing from 200 to 250 pounds. The head is long, the eyes large, the ears tapered and the nose narrow and black tipped. The horns are large and curved, and the color of the animal is a uniform tan.

Although it is called Barbary sheep, experts believe it is related more closely to the antelope family. In 1950, a 50 head experimental herd of those sheep, normally seen only in zoos and on private game farms, was placed in the rugged Canadian river canyon about 125 miles northeast of Santa Fe.

This herd now is estimated at 200 animals by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish, and is large enough to warrant a supervised hunt. Twenty-five permits have been issued, guns will be inspected for accuracy and weight, and every two hunters will be accompanied by a man from the Game Department to help them track down their quarry and to supervise the taking of the “old” mature rams.

Purpose of the hunt is described as twofold. First, it will weed out the older rams, leaving the younger and more vigorous ones for reproduction purposes. Second, it will enable game department men to find out more about the exotic animals. From viscera examinations, they will learn what the Barbary sheep eats and whether it is susceptible to any peculiar diseases.

Actual article

I figured I would pass on some of these stories to be enjoyed by others as well. I will be sharing a monthly story from these volumes. I hope you find them as informational and entertaining as I have. Until next time….Adios!

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