May saw WSFA delegates at the 2019 WSF chapters and affiliates summit. This years summit was hosted by the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn in Las Vegas Nevada.
For those that don’t know what the chapters and affiliates summit is all about. Once a year all the different chapters and affiliates of wild sheep foundation throughout North America get together to discuss conservation efforts. What some locals are having troubles with. Where others might be finding success and various opportunities to work collaboratively together to have better success.This year there were delegates all the way from Mexico to Alaska.
Thursday night started things off with a meet and great social. There where many familiar faces in the room but a few new ones (such as yours truly) It was great to meet everyone and start learning more about their individual chapters. Discussions were quick to spark up about up coming meeting topics, future plans for our organizations and maybe even a couple tails from the mountain.
Friday morning saw us up early and having a working breakfast.
Grey Thornton welcomed everyone and thanked all of the sponsors that made this summit possible. Of which Alberta was a “Bighorn” sponsor.
Nevada gave an update on the recovery of the Desert bighorn sheep. Through transplants and “guzzler” water conservation projects they have brought numbers from below 1500 animals to over 13000 today. Its been hugely successful for the fraternity of desert bighorns.
54% of this years tags will come from re-established herds. On a side note while herd numbers are improving diseases such as MOVI are still prevalent in many of the populations. Nevada is still working with domestic sheep producers to ensure separation between domestic and wild sheep.
Kevin Hurley discussed WSF cost share agreement challenges. WSF would like to see more back country users paying into conservation efforts. Discussion about wildlife viewing and photography being a large group that does not pay in.
Grey Thornton gave us an update on the WSF “new narrative” where he highlighted a few cases where they struggled to get various groups to the table to discuss conservation initiatives. He made the point to not be afraid to be controversial. Ultimately it can lead to the success of getting the conversation started.
Garret Long gave the group a great presentation on how to market ourselves better through social media. Best strategies for keeping a captive audience with “cool” updates as well as mixing in work that WSFA is doing to preserve sheep and sheep habitat. Putting an emphasis on working collabortivly with other groups to maximise exposure.
WSSBC had Kyle Stelter, Chris Barker and Provincial veterinarian Dr. Helen Schwantje give an update on what BC is doing for domestic sheep separation and disease testing. BC has been working with 4H to promote and educate MOVI free domestic sheep. They have been working with various producers of domestic sheep to educate test and treat carriers of MOVI with encouraging results.
WSSBC gave a talk about 1campfire and initiative they are putting forth to educate non hunters on how hunting is conservation. More to come in summer magazine.
We then had discussion about expanding the WSF fundraising catalogue. Different products chapters are looking forward and potential to do large group buys between chapters to help our fundraising dollars go further.
Around 230pm we broke off from board meetings. Loaded busses and headed to Lake Mead.
While on lake Mead we cruised on a triple decker paddle wheel boat. Many took the time to further discussions of wild sheep while enjoying the open air and great views. There were even a few Desert sheep spotted bedded in some cliffs. The boat cruised all the way to the hoover dam. It was there that they served dinner and everyone cut loose a little. While on the boat the one and only John Bair joined us to help raise some funds with a live auction for all those in attendance.
The night was capped of with a scenic trip back to the dock.
Saturday morning saw us up at 0530 grabbing and quick breakfast and loading into jeeps for a tour of red rock canyon. While in red rock we learned about various eco systems and animals, the indigenous people who centuries ago inhabited the land and more than I ever thought possible to know about desert tortoise.
The jeep tour gave us a great chance to break into smaller groups and discuss various topics chapter to chapter. While getting a lay of the land and hands on approach to what management looks like in Nevada.
Saturday afternoon say us all back in board meetings
We had an update from Brett Jefferson (Fraternity of the desert bighorn) about the opposition to expand the Nevada missile testing range. Things looked to be in the fraternity’s favor.
Kevin Hurley, Clay brewer, and Anna Fontana gave an update on WSF grant and aid process and funding opportunities. With an emphasis on having our “ducks” in a row prior to funding applications.
Clay Brewer made a presentation on the Wild (Feral) horse and Burro problems that they are having in Nevada. Some 90,000 animals over population. Nevada is having an extremely difficult time trying to control the feral horses and burros. Clay made a presentation of Horse rich and dirt poor which was a very moving video of the struggles they are having and how the horses are destroying the eco system. I encourage you to look it up on you tube.
Dr. Ryan Brock gave a great update on WSF and Boone and Crockett youth camps. How WSF is involved in schools and have developed packages for schools and teachers. Even wild game cooking classes offered in schools.
We then had an open Mic session were various chapters gave updates and kind of a round table discussion about various struggles each group is having. Disease weighted heavily on the open mic session.
At the end of the open mic concluded the formal meetings for 2019 chapters and affiliates summit.
2020 Summit was set to me in Lewiston Idaho June 25-27.
Everyone headed up to their rooms got cleaned up and dressed up. It was time for the 55th annual fraternity of the desert bighorn dinner and live auction. The group put on an excellent dinner. Followed up once again by John Bair heading up the live auction. Yours truly had the honor of being a spotter and maybe even coaxing a few extra bucks out of the crowd.
The evening was great raising a lot of cash wild sheep conservation.
Sunday morning came way to early. Everyone had haggard smiles while shaking hands and saying their good-byes.
Everyone headed out the door back to their home states and provinces.