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April 2018

Pizza Party a Success

Bighorn Institute’s inaugural Pizza, Sheep and Shoot-out – oh my! event was a great success and most certainly a FUNdraiser! While most took a swing to win $10,000, no one went home with the cash. However, golf pro, Dave Stockton surprised a couple closest-to-the-hole folks with brand new putters so there were winners after all! It was an all-around great evening to enjoy stunning Stone Eagle views, make new friends and raise some money for the sheep. Thanks to all who joined us!

From the Field – Aimee Byard

The other day, I was observing a ewe and lamb across a canyon from a larger group of sheep. At first, I just saw the ewe alone, or rather, heard her. She was half-heartedly head-butting a barrel cactus in an effort to open it and eat the succulent insides. I watched her, curious that she was alone and away from the others. Since it’s lambing season, my first instinct was to assess if she had a lamb. She gave me a perfect rump view and I could see her full udder indicating she indeed had a lamb, but where was it? I glassed the hills to no avail so I watched her as she switched to eating mesquite then dropped down into the canyon out of view. I wondered if her lamb was in the larger group, but hoped not since she was farther away from them than I thought a good mother should be. Funny, how easy it is to anthropomorphize, even as scientists. After around 20 minutes, I heard rocks back across the canyon and spotted a 3 month old female lamb with her eyes trained on the canyon below where the ewe had gone. Seemingly unaware of me, she picked her way down the steep hillside and disappeared into the canyon. Mystery solved, ewe and lamb reunited. Before I hiked out, both sheep emerged from the canyon below and watched me, unaware of my previous worries. Thankful for a happy ending, I hiked out with plenty of hope for this little one.

Snakes Are Out

It’s getting warmer so the snakes are out more regularly now so remember to watch for them when hiking. We had a rare sighting of a beautiful Desert Rosy Boa (Lichanura trivirgata) while conducting the monthly fence inspection in Rancho Mirage this month. We don’t typically see Rosy Boas in the field, especially compared to rattlesnakes. This harmless, more nocturnally active snake is always a welcome sight as we enjoy all wildlife.

Bighorn Presentations

In early April, we gave bighorn presentations at The Living Desert and Rancho Mirage Library and both were well attended and great education opportunities. If you’d like one of our biologists to speak to your group, just give us a call 760-346-7334.

Seeing Sheep?

We’ve had some interesting sheep reports lately and want to remind you to please let us know when you see sheep. There are a couple of ways to do that, you can email us directly at along with any photos you have or log your sighting into our Bighorn Institute project in the free, nationally known database, iNaturalist. If you want to log your sighting while in the field, use the iNaturalist app, but if you wait to get home to log your sighting, you need to go to the website since the app maps your current location. Our website has detailed instructions to use iNaturalist:

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