Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program

Brian Kurzel and Kit Fischer recently had the opportunity to educate Colorado supporters about the National Wildlife Federation’s new program to recover bighorn sheep in the state. The event was hosted by generous supporter, Bill Gay, at his stately home in Denver earlier this spring.

Bighorn sheep embody the wildness and majesty of Colorado. Bighorns are tenacious, awe-inspiring creatures dwelling in stunningly beautiful landscapes. No wonder Coloradans adopted the bighorn as their state animal! Bighorn sheep are part of Colorado’s identity. They provide inspiration along with recreation, license revenue, and tourist dollars.

Photo by NWF Staff
Mr. Gay is seen here receiving a certificate of appreciation for his generosity to the program, joining the National Wildlife Federation’s donor circle, the President’s Leadership Council. Mr. Gay’s contribution of $20,000 helped to spearhead program development and ignite NWF’s efforts to recover significant populations of bighorn sheep.

This beloved species has dwindled to less than 8,000 and is under continuous threats. Separation between wild bighorns and domestic sheep and goats is the key to security – reducing conflicts and disease risk for Colorado’s state animal.

In response, the National Wildlife Federation is implementing a proven and tried solution to sustain and grow herds of wild bighorn sheep on the Colorado landscape. Our program seeks equitable solutions for livestock and wildlife interests by working with willing ranchers to implement a market-based approach. Our vision is to restore bighorn populations in Colorado over the next 10 years by eliminating major risk areas on public lands.

“We’d like to thank Mr. Gay for not only his generous financial support, but for being the first Colorado rancher to participate in the National Wildlife Federation’s Wildlife Conflict Resolution program,” said Brian Kurzel, Regional Executive Director, of the National Wildlife Federation. “We thank him for being the first in Colorado to proactively protect the future of wildlife in the Sarvis Creek ecosystem near Steamboat Springs. Mr. Gay comes from generations of ranchers in that area and understands the delicate balance between ranching and wildlife protection.”

The program aims to raise $300,000 over three years to:

  • Initiate a multi-year program with experienced and seasoned staff who will work with Colorado ranchers.
  • Create the social and financial foundation to support a voluntary allotment retirement program.
  • Retire hundreds of thousands of acres of federal land grazing allotments in the most critical bighorn habitat.

Please contact Brian Kurzel or Kit Fischer to share your ideas on funding and/or networks to help implement this program.

BRIAN KURZEL, Regional Executive Director
National Wildlife Federation Rocky Mountain Regional Center
303-441-5157 • 303 East 17th Ave., Suite 15, Denver, CO 80203
KIT FISCHER, Senior Program Manager
National Wildlife Federation Northern Rockies and Prairies Regional Center
406-541-6731 • 240 N Higgins, Missoula, MT 59802
Wildlife Conflict Resolution Program