During the rut, or breeding season, rams will travel miles in search of ewes to breed. They can lose as much as 25% of their body weight with this increased activity. Most of the rams are unmarked, but many have distinguishable horn characteristics allowing us to tell the difference between individuals. We documented an interesting ram movement this October. A ram known to inhabit Bear Creek Canyon in the La Quinta area was observed as far north as Magnesia Canyon around Rancho Mirage this year. That’s approximately 9 miles, as the crow flies and involves crossing Hwy 74! This kind of ram movement is important to keep gene flow moving and the bighorn population healthy.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) will conduct a range-wide survey of bighorn sheep in the Peninsular Ranges in November. While these surveys are usually biennial, it has been 6 years since one has been conducted due to the lack of a helicopter contract. This survey will allow CDFW to determine the current population of bighorn sheep in the range (the mountains from Palm Springs to Mexico). The last survey was in 2010 and estimated 950 Peninsular bighorn. Population and demography data are vital to the management of an endangered species and we look forward to the current survey results.
Our membership hike in October was another wonderful success as all of our hikers saw 5 sheep! We were able to track one of the ewes that wears a GPS collar so the hike had some extra excitement. Our next Member Hike will be Friday November 11th at 8:00am. We will likely hike Carrizo or Dead Indian Canyons as they are only open from October through December to protect the sheep. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have You Seen Sheep?
Bighorn Institute monitors bighorn from Palm Springs to La Quinta, but most of the sheep are not radio-collared. This is a vast area for our few biologists so we need your help! If you’re out hiking and see bighorn sheep, please log your sightings in Bighorn Institute’s project in iNaturalist. It’s free, it’s easy and it will certainly help us keep better track of the herds. As we mentioned previously, many bighorn have distinguishable horn characteristics allowing us to identify individuals, but we are also looking for sightings on marked sheep since some have collars that no longer work. Please click on the photo for details on how to log your sheep sightings or visit our website: www.bighorninstitute.org/inaturalist-project
Upcoming Fundraiser November 20 & 21
Our Annual Party and Golf Classic are fast approaching and we hope you will join us! You don’t want to miss this amazing event at Stone Eagle Golf Club in Palm Desert. Sunday’s Annual Party festivities include live and silent auctions, great food and drinks and more at the brand new, beautiful Aerie restaurant! Monday’s Golf Classic includes a professional’s clinic, great tee prizes, breakfast, lunch and awards following play. For more information, please call 760-346-7334 or visit our website: www.bighorninstitute.org/fundraisers