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Our Mission

Bighorn Institute is dedicated to the conservation of the world's wild sheep through research and education. Its primary goal is to conduct research into the ecology of wild sheep populations with particular emphasis on Peninsular desert bighorn. The Institute has conducted a Captive Breeding and Wild Population Augmentation Program to provide genetic and demographic support to declining Peninsular bighorn populations. We have kept two local herds from disappearing: the San Jacinto and northern Santa Rosa Mountain herds. Through field and laboratory studies, the Institute generates scientific knowledge to assist in and promote the judicious management of wild sheep.


Bighorn Institute is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization created in 1982 by a group of biologists and veterinarians to investigate the causes of bighorn sheep declines, with the primary focus being Peninsular desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis). Funding for Bighorn Institute's programs is derived from individual contributions, private foundations, and public sector grants. Our work is conducted with the cooperation and oversight of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Bighorn Institute provides ecological information related to bighorn sheep to various organizations and agencies to promote the conservation and proper management of wild sheep and their habitat. Although our main focus has been the study of Peninsular bighorn sheep in California, we have been called into ten western states, and the countries of Mexico, Mongolia, and Turkmenistan to assist with wild sheep projects.


Bighorn Institute is located in Riverside County, California, adjacent to the City of Palm Desert. Our facilities, which include an office, laboratory, biologists' residence, and pens for the captive herd and bighorn rehabilitation, are located on nearly 300 acres of land purchased from the Bureau of Land Management. Due to the sensitive nature of both the disease research and the captive-rearing and wild release program, sheep at Bighorn Institute are not available for public viewing.

Directors & Staff





In Memoriam




Gerald R. Ford




38th President of the United States













Lawrence Cone, MD

Ernest W. Hahn



Bob Howard


Charles W. Jenner, D.V.M.


Richard C. McClung

Alexandra Sheldon
















Mike Rivkin - President



Dave Stockton - Executive Vice President




Randy Bynder - Vice President

Kent A. Roberts - Treasurer


Judith L. Sanders - Secretary

Jerrold Bausman, D.V.M.

Roland Burbank, D.V.M.

Danielle Cane




Nicholas J. Coussoulis

Sylvia M. Ender

Robert N. Gebhart, M.D.















James R. DeForge - Executive Director, Research








Aimee J. Byard - Director of Operations, Biologist

















Mark C. Jorgensen, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park






Oliver A. Ryder, Ph.D., Zoological Society of San Diego 


Center for Reproduction of Endangered Species







Raul Valdez, Ph.D., New Mexico State University




J. Craig Williams, Esq., Legal Counsel

































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