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April 2020

From the Field

We are still seeing lots of lambs running around the mountains near La Quinta and Palm Springs and are excited that a couple of new lambs were born this month in the Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert herd. These are the first spring lambs of the year in this area since many of the Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert ewes gave birth in the fall 2019. We anticipate there will be more spring lambs born soon and continue to watch all of the lambs to see how they fare.

Wild and Wool Documentary

This short 24-minute video does an excellent job explaining the history of respiratory disease in bighorn sheep due to their contact with domestic sheep and the subsequent loss of lambs. We formed Bighorn Institute to look into the cause of decline of bighorn in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains in 1982 because 90% of the lambs died from pneumonia each year. While this video follows northern bighorn in Washington and Nevada, it gives insight into our work and the perils our local bighorn continue to face.


The main predators of Peninsular bighorn sheep are mountains lions, coyotes and bobcats. Coyotes and bobcats primarily prey on the lambs whereas mountain lions focus more on the adults. A radio-collared ewe was killed by a mountain lion in the mountains near Palm Springs this month. While mountains lions typically prey on deer, they will switch to sheep at times. We expect some predation in a healthy population, but hopefully, this cat will move on soon.

Wildflowers in Bloom

While all of us are trying to get outside for some fresh air, it’s a great time to enjoy the wonderful wildflowers! Our roughly 3 inches of rain between March and April and the warmer temperatures have provided a perfect opportunity for flowers to flourish. The palo verde trees are especially beautiful bedecked in yellow; they’re hard to miss around town. If you go a little further into the desert, you’ll see colorful cacti and an exquisite array of annuals and perennials. Desert flowers don’t last long so grab your camera and get out there!

Snakes Are Out

It’s getting warmer so the snakes are out more regularly now so remember to watch for them while hiking. Rattlesnakes are not aggressive and will not chase you, but may strike if startled so you want to be aware of your surroundings.

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

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 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:

Wish List

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)

Recent News:

Valley Sheep Have Issues Too

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