Our mission is to enhance wild sheep populations, promote professional wildlife management, educate the public about wild sheep and the conservation benefits of hunting, encourage fair chase hunting, and protect sportsmen's rights - while keeping administrative costs to a minimum.
The FNAWS tradition began on a November weekend at Mt. Horeb, Wisconsin, in 1974. Thirteen wild sheep enthusiasts passed the time by sharing stories about their encounters with the majestic mountain creatures. After realizing how fortunate they were to have all shared such incredible experiences, they decided it was time to give something back. They formed FNAWS so men and women everywhere could get more involved in the positive management of wild sheep. It was incorporated as a non-profit corporation in Iowa on September 14, 1977, and began accepting paid memberships in 1978 as more people joined the cause. The commitment and noble spirit of FNAWS quickly helped the foundation become the fastest-growing wildlife conservation organization of its kind.
In his classic monograph “The Bighorn Sheep in the United States, Its Past, Present, and Future”, Helmut K. Buechner included a map (circa 1850) depicting approximate bighorn sheep distribution prior to European settlement of the West. In addition, a map (circa 1955) was included, showing much-reduced bighorn distribution. In 2012, the Western Association of Fish & Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Wild Sheep Working Group, using more refined GIS mapping applications, has carefully mapped the current distribution of bighorn sheep in those same 14 western states. Bighorn distribution was dramatically reduced between 1850 – 1955, but through collaborative efforts between conservation organizations such as the Wild Sheep Foundation and our network of Chapters and Affiliates, state fish and game departments, public land-management agencies (e.g., U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management), private landowners, and other supporters, bighorn distribution has greatly increased over the past ~60 years.