History of Texas Bighorn Sheep - Bighorn Sheep Society
In 1981 a small group of bighorn supporters formed the Texas Chapter of FNAWS (Foundation for North American Wild Sheep) and the Texas Bighorn Society, and began an intense lobbying effort to obtain support for the re-introduction effort in the Texas Legislature and with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. These two groups later merged under the auspices of the Texas Bighorn Society. Their efforts garnered the support of House Speaker Gib Lewis, TP&W Commissioner Perry Bass, Director Charles Travis, and others for refunding the bighorn sheep program.
In 1982-83 TBS raised over $200,000.00 to construct four 10-acre brood pastures in the Sierra Diablo Wildlife Management Area to serve as the center of the revitalized bighorn re-introduction efforts. In 1983 this facility was formally donated to the State of Texas to be managed by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission. The donation of desert bighorns from Arizona, Nevada and Utah, and transported to Texas by TBS members, began Texas' wild sheep herd. To date, more than 175 lambs have been raised and released into the mountains of Texas from this facility!
In 1985, the success of this restoration effort caught the attention of Mr. C.G. Johnson, who donated his 23,000-acre Elephant Mountain Ranch to TP&W, to create a wildlife management area devoted to desert bighorns. In February of 1987, 20 bighorns were transplanted from Sierra Diablo pens to Elephant Mountain WMA. Today this herd numbers more than 150 animals and has provided transplant stock to other areas of Texas.
Beginning in 1996, Elephant Mountain WMA has been the site of the Texas Grand Slam Hunt, which has provided hundreds of thousands of dollars for sheep management in Texas. As our sheep numbers increase, so will the number of hunting opportunities both on private land and thru public drawings. These permits will create many once in a lifetime experiences for Texas sportsmen/women.
Today, nearly 1500 bighorns roam seven locations in the mountains of West Texas, but the story is not over... TBS is dedicated to returning bighorns to all their native ranges in the state, which would take those numbers closer to 3000 of these desert monarchs. All money raised from membership dues and our annual Roundup Weekend and Auction is used exclusively to help return desert bighorns to the mountains and people of Texas. Your membership and participation in TBS activities such as our Roundup and annual "hands on" work projects can help make this dream a reality!