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  • Tanner Howard

Bighorn Sheep Numbers Up in North Dakota

NORTH DAKOTA - The North Dakota Game and Fish Department has announced that there has been a record-breaking 4% increase in the bighorn sheep population in western North Dakota, with a total of 347 sheep tallied up in March 2022. The count consisted of 96 rams, 206 ewes, and 45 lambs. This is the fifth consecutive year that there has been an increase in the survey. Although adult ewes were at record numbers, winter survival of lambs was only 54%, which is the lowest level on record and well below the long-term average. Biologists attribute this to nearly six months of harsh winter conditions. Despite this, the population is up 15% from the five-year average. There are currently about 470 bighorn sheep in the populations managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, National Park Service, and the Three Affiliated Tribes Fish and Wildlife Division.

What does this mean for hunters?

This increase in bighorn sheep numbers is good news for hunters who may be looking to hunt these animals in the future. A bighorn sheep hunting season is tentatively scheduled to open in 2023, and the success of the season will be determined after the summer population survey is conducted on September 1st.

In 2022, the North Dakota Game and Fish Department issued five licenses for bighorn sheep hunting, all of which were successful in harvesting. The increase in bighorn sheep numbers means that there is a greater chance of being able to obtain a hunting license in the future. However, it is important to note that the decision to hold a hunting season in 2023 will depend on the results of the summer population survey. If the survey reveals a significant decrease in bighorn sheep numbers, it is possible that the hunting season may be canceled to protect the population. It is also important to remember that hunting regulations and quotas are put in place to ensure the sustainability of the bighorn sheep population. Hunters must adhere to these regulations to help maintain healthy bighorn sheep populations for future generations.

Overall, the increase in bighorn sheep numbers in North Dakota is a positive development for hunters and wildlife enthusiasts. With the potential for a bighorn sheep hunting season in 2023, hunters will have an opportunity to experience the thrill of hunting these elusive animals while also contributing to the conservation efforts of the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.


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