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Wild Sheep Foundation Applauds New Nevada Desert Bighorn Population

January 21, 2020
posted in: News

Bozeman, Montana. Jan 21, 2020. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) today acknowledged the efforts of the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), the leadership of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, and WSF Affiliate Nevada Bighorns Unlimited (NBU) for a recent trap and transplant of bighorn sheep. The result was the establishment of a new population in an area that has not been home to this iconic game species for over 100 years.

“Our mission is Putting and Keeping Wild Sheep on the Mountain,” said Kevin Hurley, Vice President of Conservation & Operations and Grant-In-Aid Coordinator for the Wild Sheep Foundation. “Wherever and whenever this happens, it’s cause for celebration.”
Twenty-two individual bighorns, including four rams, were captured and released into the Pyramid Lake region near the Nevada-California border.

 Desert bighorn sheep once numbered in the tens of thousands across the arid southwestern mountain ranges. Unregulated overharvesting and disease from western expansion in the 1800s and early 1900s reduced their populations dramatically. Some preferred bighorn sheep habitats like that found around Pyramid Lake lost wild sheep populations entirely.

Our hats are off for our friend and partner, sheep conservationist Larry Johnson of NBU, Mike Cox with the Nevada Department of Wildlife, and Emily Hagler, the biologist for the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, said Hurley. “They are the ones who made this historic reintroduction happen.”
Today, through better science and conservation efforts, including habitat and water enhancement projects, as well as relocating animals from healthy herds to establish new populations, desert bighorn sheep have rebounded. They now number over 12,000 individuals in Nevada, which  now hosts the largest number of wild sheep in any of the lower 48 States. 

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