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March 2016

Wildflower Festival

A beavertail cactus flower

On March 5th, Bighorn Institute participated in the annual Wildflower Festival at the

Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. The wildflowers were wonderful and it was another beautiful day in paradise! The festival was well attended and was a great venue for Bighorn Institute to inform folks about the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep and our research and conservation efforts for the species. Thanks to all who stopped by to share your sheep sightings and stories!

Rancho Mirage Library Presentation

We will give a presentation on Thursday March 31st at 2:00pm at the Rancho Mirage Library on bighorn sheep in the Coachella Valley and beyond. We hope you will join us!

Member Only Bighorn Hike

Our group looks at sheep

On Thursday March 10th, Bighorn Institute held its inaugural Member Only Bighorn Hike, which was a great success! Bighorn Institute’s biologists took a small group on a local hiking trail in La Quinta to look for bighorn sheep. We had great success as right away we spotted a group of ewes and lambs from our meeting spot! However, they were very far away and was difficult to see, even with a spotting scope so we hit the trail. Around halfway through the hike, we found a group of rams that were a bit closer and quite viewable. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves since we were successful seeing sheep and had the added bonus of beautiful wildflowers. Our next Member Only Bighorn Hike will be Thursday April 14th at 8:00am. We’d love to have you join us. Membership starts at just $25/year and is tax-deductible. Space is limited, no dogs, and you must RSVP for this first come first served hike. To sign up or for more information, please call us at 760-346-7334 or email us at

A ewe nurses her lamb

Lambing is in Full Swing

Lambing continues in the wild and we have now documented over 40 lambs so far in our study area from Palm Springs to La Quinta. They range from just a week old to nearly 3 months old as many were born in January. There are still a number of ewes that should give birth in the coming weeks so we’re in the field daily looking for new animals. Lambing season can run through June for Peninsular bighorn with the peak between February and April.

Another Bighorn Falls into Canal

The Coachella Canal runs through SilverRock and PGA West golf courses in La Quinta and in late March, we received a report that a bighorn fell into the canal. Thankfully, it was able to get out on its own. Since August 2012, we know of 7 rams that have fallen into this canal; 4 have drowned. We continue to reiterate the need for a fence to keep the bighorn off of these golf courses and in their natural habitat.

Bighorn in Dead Indian Canyon

Ewes & lambs (lower center) in Dead Indian

In late March, we observed a group of 14 bighorn sheep, including several lambs, up high in Dead Indian Canyon. The Art Smith trail begins in this canyon and many hikers were taking advantage of the beautiful weather to go for a hike. We had a spotting scope set up and were showing people the sheep and it turned out to be a wonderful educational opportunity. Dead Indian and Carrizo Canyons are closed from January – June for lambing season as well as July – September for the hot season to protect bighorn water sources. We got to see first-hand how these closures are important to the sheep while they rear their lambs. They need areas of low disturbance to successfully raise their young and they were up in the steep escape terrain where they can better avoid predators. Of course, the sheep kept an eye on us as well, but we were far away and posed no threat. If you hike the Art Smith trail, keep a lookout for bighorn sheep! If you see some, give us a call 760-346-7334. Or, log your sheep sighting into Bighorn Institute’s citizen science project in iNaturalist; it’s free and easy just visit our website for details

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