March 2020 was a month that none of us will soon forget with COVID-19. While we update you on the status of the sheep and the Institute, we hope this newsletter finds you and yours safe and healthy. We WILL get through this and be stronger for it!
3rd Annual Spring Fling Cancelled
As many of you know by now, we had to cancel our April 9th Spring Fling fundraiser. This event is a wonderful opportunity to gather with beloved members and fellow bighorn aficionados at an incredible venue. However, the Spring Fling is also one of only two fundraisers that the Institute holds each year to raise critical funds necessary for our conservation efforts for the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep. So, if you would like and are able, we would deeply appreciate donations in lieu of our party. We’re privately funded and do our best to operate on a shoe-string budget; no donation is too small. Thank you for your consideration and support!
Bighorn Institute and COVID-19
A number of people have asked whether or not this virus has affected the Institute and our work. Thankfully, it hasn’t as much as for other businesses. That’s not to say we’re not affected (you just read about our cancelled fundraiser), but we’re blessed to work with an amazing animal and very few people, which means we can generally work “as normal.” The captive herd of bighorn sheep requires care 365 days a year so we can’t just “close our doors.” However, we are being careful and taking steps to stay healthy by minimizing working together, cutting down hours, doing extra disinfecting, etc. We wildlife biologists generally prefer animals to people so social distancing isn’t such a struggle for us as it seems to be for most people. We’re committed to doing what’s best for the sheep and we’re in this for the long haul. The Institute is celebrating its 38th year so we have a lot to be thankful for, which is what we’re focusing on during these trying times.
We’re so grateful to be able to continue our fieldwork since we typically hike alone when monitoring the sheep. March was a good month for discovering more lambs, especially in the central Santa Rosa Mountains around La Quinta. We documented a number of new lambs in this herd as well as a couple of new lambs in the Palm Springs herd. So far so good with the spring lamb survival in the local herds with lots of lambs running around. We’re also still seeing a few fall 2019 lambs in the Rancho Mirage herd. The lambs are a nice ray of light and hope for this species and for us as well.
La Quinta Fence Update
The La Quinta fence is moving forward and we have been talking with the lead agency, CVAG (Coachella Valley Association of Governments), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Coachella Valley Water District and others about possible artificial water sources for the sheep and other fence logistics. There are many details to work out, but they are keeping us in the loop and we are helping when and where we can to get the fence built and the sheep out of the urban areas of PGA West and Lake Cahuilla.
Thankfully, we were able to participate in the Wildflower Festival on March 7th at the Palm Desert Civic Center Park. It was a great opportunity to talk to folks about the bighorn and we appreciate all who stopped by our booth. We had four bighorn presentations cancelled for the month of March, one of which was planned for the Rancho Mirage Library. The library plans to reschedule this talk so we will let you know the new date when it’s determined.
Member Hike Hiatus
We will forego our April Member Hike to comply with the necessary social distancing, which means our Member Hikes will go on hiatus until the fall. Stay healthy and we look forward to seeing you then!
You Can Help
People have asked us what we need or how they can help during this time. There are a number of things you can do:
1. Become a member - Renew your membership - Give a gift membership – it’s all tax-deductible!
2. Adopt a bighorn: a unique gift for the person who has everything https://www.bighorninstitute.org/adopt-a-bighorn
3. Feed the Captive Herd for a Week for $100 – this tax-deductible donation covers the cost of alfalfa
4. Shop our Wish List below
5. Shop Amazon Smile for Bighorn Institute: we’re all shopping online more so shop for the sheep! We get a percentage of everything you buy when shopping smile.amazon.com and choose Bighorn Institute as your charity of choice
6.“Like” Bighorn Institute on social media to stay informed and support and promote our work
7. Log your sheep sightings in our Bighorn Institute iNaturalist project: instructions here: https://www.bighorninstitute.org/inaturalist-project
Golf Cart – we use electric carts to get around our 300 acre property to minimize disturbance to the sheep
Field receiver - $1,000 – allows us to track the radio-collared bighorn sheep
Gift cards: Amazon, Staples, gas cards (Shell, Mobile, Chevron, Tower Mart)