RENO, Nev. - The annual Sheep Show is expected to draw a crowd of thousands over the next two days at Reno's Grand Sierra Resort. The Wild Sheep Foundation expects to raise more than $5 million for conservation efforts this year.
“Our whole mission and purpose is to keep sheep on the mountain,” Conservation Director Kevin Hurley of the Wild Sheep Foundation said. “We're a hunting organization but we're a conservation organization first. We believe in wild sheep management and we're here to raise the money that helps put sheep on mountains all over the world.”
The group has been involved in a number of projects here in Nevada.
“Nevada is home to the most bighorn sheep of any state or province,” Hurley said. “There are more than 10,000 of them here and we've done water projects here, we've helped fund disease research, transplants and prescribed burns right here in Nevada.”
More than 1,500 people are registered for the annual convention and there are day passes available on site. The event draws exhibitors from all over the world.
“We come here every year,” said Wyatt McBride of Spey Creek Trophy Hunting out of New Zealand. “New Zealand is the most beautiful country in the world and we have beautiful animals so if you're looking for a one-of-a-kind trip come down for a visit. People don't realize it's only a 12-hour flight from San Francisco to New Zealand so you can go over, be on a hunting trip and be back to work in a weeks time.”
For a lot of hunting enthusiasts, the convention is an annual tradition.
“We've been coming here for 26 years,” Rod Hunter of Buckbrush Outfitters said. “It's a great place to come and show and see a lot of people we haven't seen in years. We're out of Alberta and I've been a sheep hunter for years so we just come here all the time and help support the cause. I'm a lifetime member and so is my son.”
“It's a big conservation effort; the idea is to put sheep on the mountain and they're doing that all over the world,” Carmen Nyuli of Tahltan Outfitters said. “That's what it's really about.”
The foundation is teaming up with local conservation organizations to put on the second annual Youth Wildlife Conservation Experience. More than 600 area students have signed up.
“They're the next generation and they're going to be calling the shots,” Hurley said.
The event runs through Saturday.