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May 2019

Save the Date!

The 2019 Annual Party and Golf Classic fundraiser will take place November 17 & 18 at Stone Eagle Golf Club! This is the Institute’s primary fundraiser and it’s an event not to be missed! We’re starting to collect auction items so if you have anything to donate, please let us know-nothing is too small just call the office 760-346-7334. Invitations will be mailed in early October so mark your calendars for this fabulously fun event supporting the endangered Peninsular bighorn!

From the Field

We saw a few new lambs in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains herd near Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert this month so our total lamb count there is 29. Most are still climbing the cliffs and they’re getting big with 1-2” of horn growth! No new lambs in the San Jacinto’s near Palm Springs or central Santa Rosa’s near La Quinta, but we’ve still got one month left in lambing season so well see. Lambing extends through June for Peninsular bighorn.

Rams in the Range

It’s been an interesting year so far since we had over 5 inches of rain by February, which apparently turned the wildlife world a little on its head. We’ve seen rams with ewes and lambs since January. The interesting thing is, we hardly saw any rams in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains last year. Rams mixing with ewes and lambs is highly unusual during the non-breeding season (January – June) since the rams form bachelor groups and head to the backcountry usually in search of better food. The rams didn’t have to go far to look for higher quality forage this year and stayed in the same areas as the ewes. It’s been a little weird doing so many mixed-group observations (rams, ewes, and lambs) during lambing season when we usually have just ewes and lambs together, but we’re seeing what we might learn from it. The more the merrier! Pictured to the right are a ram, ewe and lamb looking on.

Don’t Feed the Sheep

We’ve talked about this before, but residents and renters at PGA West are feeding the sheep regularly and it’s becoming a serious human safety issue besides being illegal for an endangered species. Bighorn sheep are now going as far as approaching people on golf carts “begging” because they’re being fed. PGA West has been fining people, but many are getting away with it, which is making it dangerous for everyone. Wildlife is best kept wild and feeding the sheep habituates them to humans, which isn’t in their best interest. Once they lose their fear of humans, they can act aggressively. Peninsular bighorn sheep are adapted to live in our harsh desert and while the mountains may not look like they have enough food for them, they do. Please don’t feed the sheep! Pictured to the left is a ewe waiting to be fed.

World Environment Day

Join us Sunday, June 2nd from 2-5 pm for World Environment Day in Palm Springs! We’ll have an information booth at this fun, free event where there will be live music, art and more! Come learn about the sheep or check out other cool booths about the environment. The event is indoors at the Palm Springs Pavilion, 401 S. Pavilion Way. Hope to see you there!

Hay Day

Bighorn Institute has had a captive herd since 1984, which are housed on a couple of enclosed hills, a 30 acre and a 7 acre. There have been a number of heavily-browsing bighorn over the years in these same enclosures. To keep the native vegetation from being overgrazed, we supplement the captive bighorn herd’s diet with alfalfa. Eating native vegetation helps to ensure a smooth digestive transition when captive bighorn are released into the wild. For disease prevention, we get our hay from a farm that has no affiliation or contact with domestic sheep, goats, or cattle. At the end of May, we got an alfalfa delivery so our barn is restocked for at least a year. It’s hard work stacking 100 lb bales of alfalfa, but it’s a great feeling to have the captive herd’s food supply stocked up!

Waterhole Count Volunteers Wanted

We’ll be doing another waterhole count for a couple of days in early July and are looking for a few volunteers to brave the desert heat by sitting on waterholes and helping us count sheep. If you’d like more information, please call 760-346-7334 or email

Recent News

Lambing season has good signs so far for the Coachella Valley's Peninsular bighorn sheep

BI Books Available!

Available at Bighorn Institute, The Living Desert and the Santa Rosa & San Jacinto Mountains National Monument Visitor Center. All proceeds benefit the Institute. Contact 760-346-7334 to pick up your copy for $20.

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