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Man Bids $80,000 For Hunting Permit

February 25, 1991

HELENA, Mont. (AP) _ A very determined hunter bid $80,000 to win a special Montana bighorn ram hunting permit that gives him a higher than average chance at a trophy this fall.

And it’s the second time he’s put out big bucks for the premier permit, the state Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department said Monday. He paid $61,000 last year, and he bagged his quarry.

The agency said Greg Stires of Chino, Calif., entered the top bid Saturday at an auction conducted for the state in Reno, Nev., at the annual convention of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep. Permits for eight Western states also were auctioned.

Locating the convention in Reno, where casinos attract high rollers, was part of the foundation’s successful proposal to conduct the auction, said Glenn Erickson of the fish and wildlife agency.

The holder of the special auction permit is the only hunter who knows up front that he’ll have access to the best hunting areas in the fall season.

A non-resident license goes for $322, but that general license is good only in the least promising hunting districts, where the success rate is about 1.5 percent.

Access to the better districts, where there are more and bigger sheep and a success rate approaching 99 percent, is awarded only by lottery - except for the auctioned permit. And non-residents can hold no more than 10 percent of the licenses.

In 1990, Erickson said, there were 12,577 applicants for sheep licenses, and only 608 licenses issued - 558 resident and 50 non-resident. Just 145 rams were killed. Montana’s bighorn population is about 5,500 to 6,000, he said.

The auction proceeds go to develop and manage Montana’s bighorn sheep population.

Stires’ bid was only the third-highest. The highest was in 1987, when the permit went for $109,000. The second-highest was $93,000, in 1988.

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