You may recall that problems in Tajikistan started when the president there closed hunting in January 2009. The reason was supposedly concerns over the populations of Marco Polo sheep as well as other problems between the industry and government. Working with biologists from Europe, the Tajikistanis organized a population survey, which was completed in January. The findings indicate there are more sheep than anyone had imagined. As a result, the president has declared the season will reopen this year.
Furthermore, the Tajikistanis plan to create a new and comprehensive sheep management program. Word is that they also are establishing their own CITES authority in Dushanbe so that they no longer need to rely on the CITES authority in Moscow, Russia, for their export permits. That will also minimize the possibility of problems with the re-export permits required by US Fish & Wildlife. This was one of the issues that contributed to the detainment of those Marco Polo trophies imported to the United States this past season.
Working with biologists, the Tajikistanis will be conducting a second sheep survey this spring during the lambing season. This will give them a complete picture of their sheep populations. Once they have that, they plan to finalize their new management program and submit it to US Fish & Wildlife by the May deadline. US Fish & Wildlife, as you may........(continued)