Word traveled quickly when Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks announced an unprecedented unlimited
number of bighorn sheep tags for Montana’s Tendoy Mountains. The new Sitka Film follows Afghanistan
veteran and Montana native Tony Larsen into the Tendoys, resulting in an exciting archery stalk.
But there is a bigger narrative here. Tony’s hunt is one small part of a carefully planned conservation
solution, which itself could have reverberations for wild sheep across North America. Tendoys tells that
By 1940, bighorn sheep were considered extinct in the Tendoys. In 1985, the Department of Fish,
Wildlife and Parks reintroduced 39 wild bighorn sheep, along with another 14 in 1986. By 1993, the herd
was up to more than 150 animals. But that same winter, an all-age pneumonia die off reduced the herd to
28 animals, with no lambs surviving. The pneumonia was likely contracted through contact with domestic
Hunting was suspended in 1994, and for the next 20 years, the cycle of reintroducing sheep followed by
massive die-offs ensued. In 2012, 49 bighorns were added to the Tendoys. By early 2015, only 19 could
be found. The pneumonia-induced die-offs could not be overcome.
The solution, which Tony’s hunt is a part of, is to eradicate the current herd, create a buffer between wild
and domestic sheep in the region, and restore the Tendoys with a clean, healthy herd.
There is still much work to be done, but with conservation groups such as the Wild Sheep Foundation and
brands such as Sitka Gear raising funding and awareness, the future looks favorable for bighorns.
For more information or interviews with those involved in the Tendoys film, please contact Glenn Walker