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April 2016

Bighorn Released into the Wild

In early April, Bighorn Institute released an adult ewe from its captive herd into the northern Santa Rosa Mountains. Prior to her release, this ewe was health tested and fitted with a radio-collar and eartag. The capture and release went well and the ewe seems to be adjusting to her new environment. She has been seen with other sheep and looks great (good body condition, alert, etc.) We have now released 127 bighorn sheep into the wild over the years and this ewe is the 100th bighorn born in the captive herd that was released into the wild. This released ewe must survive in the wild for at least 4 months to be considered a successful release so we will continue to track her daily, but are certainly pleased with her progress so far.

Bighorn Presentations

We gave two presentations in the past month that were welcome opportunities for some bighorn education. In late March, we spoke at the Rancho Mirage Library on bighorn sheep in the Coachella Valley and beyond. In early April, we gave a presentation to the Coachella Valley Hiking Club at the Palm Desert Library. The presentations were well attended and there were very informative question/answer sessions following each talk. If you would like us to give a bighorn presentation, please give us a call at (760) 346-7334 or email us at

Bighorn Hikes for Members

On Thursday April 14th, Bighorn Institute took its monthly Bighorn Hike for Members in Palm Desert. The weather was beautiful and there were still a few wildflowers to enjoy as we glassed for bighorn sheep. Our next Bighorn Hike for Members will be Friday May 20th at 8:00am and we’d love to have you join us. Membership starts at just $25/year and is completely 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

Lambs in the Wild

New lambs have been born since our last report and we have now documented around 50 lambs born in our study area from Palm Springs to La Quinta. They are growing quickly and many of the older lambs (3-4 months old) have noticeable horn growth. There has been abundant available vegetation, thanks to the January rain, so field conditions are quite favorable for now. There are already a number of sick lambs on the golf courses of La Quinta, which is expected as they graze in urban areas in unusually large groups where disease can spread easily. That said, the lambs in the natural habitat look good so far, but we will continue to monitor the sheep because we expect all ewes to give birth, but what’s critical is how many lambs survive to adulthood.

Citizen Science - You Can Help!

Have you seen bighorn sheep while out hiking? If so, we'd like to know about it. We have a new project on the iNaturalist app where we're getting the community involved in logging Peninsular desert bighorn sightings. This information helps us to keep track of the local herds as well as helps us to determine the number of bighorn, sex ratios, etc. It's free, it's easy and we hope you'll join Bighorn Institute's iNaturalist project and help with our conservation efforts. Please click on the photo for details.

Other Wildlife


It’s been an active year for snakes already and we’ve seen a number of snakes on our property including a Southwest Speckled Rattlesnake (Crotalus mitchellii pyrrhus) and a Red Racer (Coluber flagellum piceus). The Institute is on 300 acres of open desert with many native species of plants and animals on site. While bighorn sheep are our focus and passion, we have a deep appreciation for all that lives in the desert as each species plays a unique role in this beautiful ecosystem we call home.

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