Conservation - Fall 2017

Conservation is essentially protecting and managing natural resources to ensure their availability for future generations. With an ever-increasing human population, there are sure to be inadvertent impacts on natural resources. Conservation will always require “give and take.” Every species plays a role in its ecosystem and if you remove one it will likely affect the entire system. Bighorn sheep are an “umbrella species,” which means that they are at the heart of the ecosystem and many plants and animals will benefit if the sheep are protected.

Bighorn Institute’s mission is to conserve the world’s wild sheep through research and education. Since its inception in 1982, we have been dedicated to keeping bighorn sheep in the mountains. It started with bringing in sick lambs in the early 80s from the northern Santa Rosa Mountains (NSRM)

near Rancho Mirage. Nobody thought a sick bighorn could be saved, but thankfully, we had an incredible group of veterinarians and physicians working with us and we were able to successfully rehabilitate 33 of 39. During this time, we discovered that 4 viruses were playing a role in the bacterial pneumonia claiming the lives of the lambs. This was an important disease breakthrough and our disease research continues today as part of our conservation work.

An unexpected conservation effort grew out of the successful rehabilitation of sick lambs. Many of the rehabilitated lambs were returned to the wild, but