In 1936, it was the Arizona Boy Scouts that mounted a statewide campaign to save the bighorn sheep. Their interest was sparked by Major Frederick Russell Burnham (1861-1947), a noted conservationist who has been called the 'Father of Scouting'.

Burnham had observed that fewer than 150 bighorn sheep lived in the Arizona mountains. As a result, he took the initiative and called then scout executive of the Boy Scout council headquartered in the state capital of Phoenix with his plan to save the sheep. He is quoted as saving, "I want you to save this majestic animal, not only because it is in danger of extinction, but of more importance, some day it might provide domestic sheep with a strain to save them from disaster at the hands of a yet unknown virus."

Other prominent Arizonans joined the movement, and a 'save the bighorns' poster contest was started in schools throughout the state. Burnham again took the initiative and provided prizes to support the effort. The contest-winning bighorn emblem was made into a neckerchief slides for the 10,000 Boy Scouts. Other organizations joined the effort including the National Wildlife Federation, the Izaak Walton League (an environmental organization) and the National Audubon Society.

These efforts led to the establishment of 2 bighorn game ranges (1.5 million acres or 600,000 hectares) in 1939 to develop high-mountain waterholes for the sheep. The desert bighorn sheep is now the official mascot for the Arizona Boy Scouts.

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