Take a walk on the wild side: talking sheep in BC

The Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia (WSSBC) is a not for profit registered Society dedicated to the protection and enhancement of wild sheep and wild sheep habitat throughout “Beautiful British Columbia.”  

In 2018 we are celebrating our 25th year of existence, and with 2017 being one of our strongest years on record, we are very excited about the momentum that 2018 has to offer. 

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BC is home to the largest and most diverse populations of wild sheep of any other province, state or territory in North America. From the dry desert-like climate of the southern interior to the glacial northern most corner along the Yukon border, you can find 4 sub-species of sheep spread across this province. They have adapted to and thrive in some of the harshest environments and they continue to be an iconic symbol of our BC wilderness.

First Nations peoples have long had a deep relationship with wild sheep and an understanding of their importance in the ecosystem. Sheep have also historically had many uses for First Nations including providing for sustenance, societal and ceremonial needs. More recently, they have become highly valued by wildlife enthusiasts for wildlife viewing, as a sign of wilderness and a healthy environment, and as one of the most challenging big game species a hunter can pursue.

Thinhorn sheep populations in British Columbia are currently estimated at 13,000; of which all but a handful located in the Northwest of the province are Stone’s Sheep.  We have a small population of roughly 500 Dall sheep in the Tatshenshini-Alsak region of the province.  With such a significant population of Stone’s Sheep we have a special responsibility to protect these species and ensure their continued health and viability in British Columbia.

The Wild Sheep Society’s inception dates back to 1992 getting its start through a group of dedicated sportsmen and women that recognized the challenges wild sheep face. They believed it was their responsibility to protect the species they had come to admire. Since then, the Society has grown to hundreds of members provincially and internationally whose crucial funds and volunteer time are funnelled into projects around BC with the goal of “Putting More Sheep On The Mountains.” 

We currently have two annual major fundraisers that are critical for generating funds, which we reinvested back into wild sheep projects in BC.  We hold a Convention each year in Kamloops and just this past year we inaugurated a Northern Fundraiser in Dawson Creek.  During our annual Fundraisers and Convention, we engage our membership and the public with updates on the status of our wild sheep populations, the latest on our projects and research, awareness of wild sheep health and disease issues, and other educational events related to wild sheep and sheep hunting.

Dawson Creek residents Robbie Englot and Korey Green took the initiative in 2017 to throw a Northern event to generate money for wild sheep.  All money from this fundraiser was put into our Northern account and ear marked for Thinhorn projects in Northern B.C.  We felt that with the Northern community supporting our event it was paramount that the money be reinvested back into their region.

Our 2017 Northern Fundraiser, held in February at Fixx Urban Grill, was wildly successful selling out in 24 hours.  The support we had from the North was incredible and allowed us to invest in a crucial habitat restoration project in the Tuchodi region.  The Wild Sheep Society of BC was invited to participate in a Guide Outfitter lead prescribed burn partnering with Tuchodi River Outfitters.  We were able to contribute $25,500 of the $40,000 budget for this prescribed burn thanks to the support we received at the Northern Fundraiser.

The burn took place this past summer in the Tuchodi River Valley and was another great collaboration with multiple partners.  North Peace Rod and Gun Club (FSJ) contributed $10,000 from their wild sheep account and the BC Conservation Foundation added the final $5,000 to complete the funding request. Tuchodi River Outfitters provided a great deal of in kind support including burn permit application fees, mop up crews, accommodations and staging areas. Lastly, Highland Helicopters donated materials for ignition as well as forgiving standby charges.

With the continued support and interest of Northern Communities we are holding our second annual Northern Fundraiser February 3rd, 2018 in Dawson Creek.  Tickets are on sale until January 18.  T

his year our guest speaker is Kevin Hurley, Wild Sheep Foundation Senior Director Conservation.  Carl Gitscheff, Director of the BC Trappers Association will be doing a presentation on wolf trapping.  Michel Lavallee, Section Head FLNRO will be presenting their five/ten year burn plan for Northern BC along with presentations from Mike Bridger, Regional Biologist FLNRO and Alicia Woods, Wildlife Infometrics on the Tuchodi River burn project.  The event will include industry vendor displays, seminars, live and silent auctions, and some amazing raffle items.   The Wild Sheep Society of British Columbia is committed to preserving and ensuring that wild sheep in British Columbia flourish. 

For more infromation see wildsheepsociety.com

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