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While many hunters don't see state-sponsored tag donations to groups such as FNAWS and RMEF as wise use of a limited resource, Lee says there is empirical proof that the money generated by auctioning tags to high bidders has played a tremendous role in boosting wild sheep numbers and thus has benefited everyone with an interest in big game.
So they incorporated FNAWS as a nonprofit and in 1979 started approaching the various states with wild sheep populations and saying, in essence, Give us one or two sheep hunting permits, we'll auction them to the highest bidder, and we'll give the proceeds right back to you, earmarked for conservation.
Right alongside an article celebrating how FNAWS auctions help ejidatarios "learn about the economic value of wildlife and continued conservation practices" lie advertisements that make a liberal worry he's in NRA-wacko territory after all.
FNAWS is different, says Lavigne, in that the hunts provide conservation funds without promoting a larger marketplace for endangered wildlife.
FNAWS itself currently auctions 25 to 30 permits per year, generating more than $2 million annually, for a to-date total of more than $24 million.
In the view of Ray Lee, the current president of FNAWS, "A lot of antihunting types make the mistake of looking at the individual animal as most important." A former Arizona state fish and game official and university lecturer on wildlife biology, Lee is a fair-skinned and slender man with intense blue eyes, a deep voice, and an air of preternatural self-control.
When Merkel took him to a FNAWS convention, it made such an impression that Drettmann eventually put hunting and wildlife conservation at the center of his life.
In January 2004, Drettmann flew out to the annual FNAWS convention in Reno, Nevada, to bid on the hunt that brought him to Baja.
But FNAWS' Lee has concerns, both about captive bighorns and those on hunting ranches in Sonora.
Reneau, reflects the FNAWS founders' sincere love for wild sheep and a grave concern for declining sheep numbers.
For people who don't know, FNAWS is a 99-percent-volunteer organization known for investing in projects rather than needless staff and administrative functions.
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