Project Description

SIERRA NEVADA BIGHORN SHEEP

OBJECTIVE: Our Conservancy supports efforts to help the remaining herds of Sierra Nevada Bighorn sheep grow and expand across the JMT region.

SIERRA NEVADA BIGHORN SHEEP

OBJECTIVE: Our Conservancy supports efforts to help the remaining herds of Bighorn sheep grow and expand across the JMT region.

The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep are indigenous to the Sierra Nevada of California and are defined by large curling horns that appear on both rams and ewes. Today they range from Yosemite to Sequoia National Parks along the rocky high crest of the John Muir Trail. Shy and elusive creatures, their coats vary with colors that blend with the palette of stone and talus across the region making them extremely hard to spot. Our board member, John Dittli, managed to capture a small group in the photographs here, bringing home the striking beauty of these animals. While hiking the JMT, perhaps you have seen one of these wonderful creatures!

While we cannot know their historic numbers, by the beginning of the 20th century the Sierra bighorn had declined to nine known herds. By the 1970s, the Sierra bighorn were reduced to just two herds in the vicinity of Mt. Baxter and Mt. Williamson. Management to expand the herds began in the early 1980’s by moving diverse groups to three new areas of the Sierra Nevada. Even with this, bighorn numbers fluctuated between 100 to 300 animals. California led the way in 1999, when the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep were moved from threatened to endangered status under the California Endangered Species Act. On January 3, 2000, the federal government followed by listing them under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Our Conservancy supports management strategies that allow the known herds to grow and expand across the region, as well as the restoration of meadows and watershed where the bighorn may range. Factors that adversely impact Sierra bighorn numbers are: risk of disease from domestic sheep, predation by mountain lions, forest succession, climate change, restricted genetic diversity, severe weather, and reduced geographic distribution. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is the lead agency working in collaboration with Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon (SEKI) National Parks and the Inyo and Sierra National Forests, among other state and federal agency partners, to implement recovery actions designed to manage these factors.

Currently, SEKI plans to survey the Bighorn sheep ranging between Pinchot Pass and Sawmill Pass along the JMT to measure its herd strength, its gender and genetic diversity, and to transplant select individuals to several other areas, as appropriate. Our Conservancy hopes to fund that effort.

Help us sustain the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep in their ancestral California home along the John Muir Trail!

                                VIEW ALL PROJECTS

The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep are indigenous to the Sierra Nevada of California and are defined by large curling horns that appear on both rams and ewes. Today they range from Yosemite to Sequoia National Parks along the rocky high crest of the John Muir Trail. Shy and elusive creatures, their coats vary with colors that blend with the palette of stone and talus across the region making them extremely hard to spot. Our board member, John Dittli, managed to capture a small group in the photographs here, bringing home the striking beauty of these animals. While hiking the JMT, perhaps you have seen one of these wonderful creatures!

While we cannot know their historic numbers, by the beginning of the 20th century the Sierra bighorn had declined to nine known herds. By the 1970s, the Sierra bighorn were reduced to just two herds in the vicinity of Mt. Baxter and Mt. Williamson. Management to expand the herds began in the early 1980’s by moving diverse groups to three new areas of the Sierra Nevada. Even with this, bighorn numbers fluctuated between 100 to 300 animals. California led the way in 1999, when the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep were moved from threatened to endangered status under the California Endangered Species Act. On January 3, 2000, the federal government followed by listing them under the federal Endangered Species Act.

Our Conservancy supports management strategies that allow the known herds to grow and expand across the region, as well as the restoration of meadows and watershed where the bighorn may range. Factors that adversely impact Sierra bighorn numbers are: risk of disease from domestic sheep, predation by mountain lions, forest succession, climate change, restricted genetic diversity, severe weather, and reduced geographic distribution. The California Department of Fish and Wildlife is the lead agency working in collaboration with Yosemite and Sequoia & Kings Canyon (SEKI) National Parks and the Inyo and Sierra National Forests, among other state and federal agency partners, to implement recovery actions designed to manage these factors.

Currently, SEKI plans to survey the Bighorn sheep ranging between Pinchot Pass and Sawmill Pass along the JMT to measure its herd strength, its gender and genetic diversity, and to transplant select individuals to several other areas, as appropriate. Our Conservancy hopes to fund that effort.

Help us sustain the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep in their ancestral California home along the John Muir Trail!

VIEW ALL PROJECTS