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2022 Grait-in-Aid Project – Desert BHS Transplant – East Harcuvar Mountains, Arizona

November 22, 2022
posted in: Conservation, News

November 21, 2022 - To expand desert Bighorn sheep into suitable, historical, but currently, unoccupied range, the Arizona Department of Fish & Game (AZDFG) and the Arizona Desert Bighorn Sheep Society successfully transplanted 30 bighorns into Arizona's East Harcuvar Mountains on November 19, 2022. The population estimate in the Harcuvar Mountains is 100-120 wild sheep; AZGFD believes this range can sustain a population of 400+ desert bighorn sheep.

The Wild Sheep Foundation guaranteed $50,000 toward this project in early September 2022. WSF obtained $25,000 from WSF Midwest and $20,000 from Bass Pro Shops and Cabela's Outdoor Fund in partner funding for this multi-faceted project. These funds helped purchase the 30 GPS radio collars to monitor the sheep's post-release movements, habitat use, and survival. Additional steps in this multi-faceted project include the purchase of a 500-gallon, heavy-duty water-hauling trailer dedicated to the Harcuvar Mountains. This trailer has already been ordered, with delivery expected in January 2023.

Based on two years of game camera monitoring of the region's previous wild sheep population, it was determined that they use three temporary water tanks. In the future, a permanent 30,000-gallon catchment will be built, once the Bureau of Land Management completes the required NEPA analysis. These three temporary water tanks will be redeployed to facilitate further monitoring of desert bighorn sheep use in advance of another possible transplant operation. Also, under the auspices of the AZGFD Adaptive Mountain Lion Management Plan, at least seven years of work have already occurred in the Harcuvar Mountains, raising the likelihood of a successful transplant effort.

This project was one of 14 Grant-in-Aid projects approved for the fiscal year 2022-2023. WSF approved a record $1.22 million in GIA funds for this period. This Conservation Grant funding is one component of the expected $6 Million in mission program funding WSF will direct in FY 2022-23. WSF annually funds more than $6 million in conservation programs and has invested nearly $50 Million in Mission programs during the past ten years alone.

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