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August 2017

Lambing Update

This year’s lambing season won’t see the success of the past couple of years. In the northern Santa Rosa Mountains near Rancho Mirage, only a few lambs remain. Some of them showed signs of illness, but predation could have certainly played a role. The San Jacinto Mountains herd near Palm Springs looks more promising, but many lambs have also died in that group. They had not been showing signs of illness prior to disappearing. And as we’ve previously reported, the La Quinta herd has had significant lamb mortality this year. So, we’ll keep tracking the herds and see how things shape up by the end of the year. The good news is, the rut is on so there’s hope for the future!


In early August, a 19 year old captive ewe nicknamed “Eloisa” passed away. This is the second ewe in Bighorn Institute’s captive herd that has reached 19 years old, which is well beyond the average lifespan of 10 to 14 years in the wild. “Eloisa” was captured as a lamb in the central Santa Rosa Mountains and brought to the Institute as breed stock to increase genetic diversity. She was an amazing sentinel, always alerting us to disturbances on our property, including predators. Despite being reared in captivity, she always remained very wild. People sometimes have a misconception about the Institute’s captive herd that they’re tame, which they are not. We never released “Eloisa” into the wild because we couldn’t have captured her twice! When we release sheep, we have to catch them to health test them no more than 3 months prior to their release. There was no way she would have allowed herself to be caught twice in 3 months! O worries, she was a great asset to recovery, giving birth to 10 lambs, and an important matriarch at the end.

USS Gerald R. Ford

On July 22nd, the first-in-class aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford was commissioned at Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia. The Navy has not commissioned a first-in-class carrier since 1975 so this is a tremendous honor to the late President Gerald R. Ford, a former member of the Navy, and his family. President Ford played an instrumental role in Bighorn Institute first, as a Board Member, then, as the Chairman of Fundraising, and now posthumous as the Honorary Chairman of Fundraising. As a former resident of Rancho Mirage with bighorn sheep issues “in his backyard,” President Ford was immensely helpful in getting the Institute’s facility built, its research programs supported and getting a fence built in Rancho Mirage to keep the sheep safe from urban perils. President Ford was a great man and is most deserving of this amazing honor and we feel fortunate to have had him in our lives.

Trailer Painted

In early August, we spruced up the living trailer on our property where one of our biologists lives with a fresh coat of paint. It hadn’t been painted since 2009 and was beyond in need. Of course, with limited funds, we don’t always get to do necessary maintenance. Lucky for us, A&N Pools generously donated the paint and materials for the job! They didn’t stop there because owner, Wally Norris, and his son Judge, gave up their time and talents and helped us paint it as well! The trailer looks great and we can’t thank A&N Pools, Wally, and Judge enough for all they did to make it happen!

Fundraiser Reminder

Don’t forget, our 2017 Annual Party and Golf Classic fundraiser will take place November 19th & 20th at Stone Eagle Golf Club in Palm Desert! This event is open to everyone and is the Institute’s main fundraiser so we hope you’ll join us! Invitations will be mailed in early October. If you can’t come or would just like to help out, we can use auction items! Nothing is too big or too small to make a difference so please call if you have something you’d like to donate 760-346-7334!

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