You'll recall we first reported that a sheep survey conducted last fall/winter found such healthy populations of Marco Polo argali that the president of Tajikistan verbally announced the reopening of sheep hunting there. (See Article ID: 2400.) The problem was that the official documentation was never issued, leaving hunting operators nd their clients wondering whether they really would get to go hunting. A lack of clear information from authorities may have led to at least one illegally conducted hunt that we heard about. The recent letter issued by the Committee on Environment Conservation makes it very clear that all hunting of argali was closed until September 2, 2010.
As for the findings of that sheep survey, there are a reported 24,000 sheep in the Pamir Mountains, versus only 12,000 in 2002. Although the density varies depending on the location within the Murgab District, the survey established an average of three to five sheep per square kilometer, with concentrations of 30 to 80 animals per square kilometer in some areas. Also, trophy class rams make up anywhere from four to eight percent of the population. Based on these numbers, the Committee plans a quota of 80 rams for the 2010/2011 season, with 60 rams allotted to American hunters. A list of 37 approved US hunters was included with the letter to USF&W, with a notation that more hunters may be added to the list later.
In the past, with a smaller population of sheep reported, USF&W has issued 60 permits to US hunters. Many........(continued)