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January 2024

Reminder: Membership Meeting Feb. 3rd 


Our Annual Membership Meeting is in a few days on Saturday, February 3rd from 8:30am-9:30am at Bighorn Institute. We will discuss our accomplishments in 2023, plans for 2024 and elect the Institute’s 2024 Board of Directors.  All current members are welcome, but please RSVP at 760-346-7334.  We hope you can join us!

 














Save the Date: 2024 Spring Fling

Mark your calendars for our upcoming 2024 Spring Fling fundraiser to be held on the evening of Tuesday, April 16th at Stone Eagle Golf Club! Invitations will be mailed out in March, but please save the date and we hope to see you there!









Population Update

On January 1st, all lambs born in 2023 are considered yearlings and have been added as adults into the population.  Lamb survival was lower overall this year compared to last year in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains (NSRM) near Rancho Mirage/Palm Desert and San Jacinto Mountains (SJM) near Palm Springs; a decrease from 40% to 33% lamb survival and 26% to 11% lamb survival, respectively. Both herds remain relatively stable. The NSRM herd now numbers approximately 130 adult bighorn, and the SJM herd has around 80 adult bighorn. Lamb survival in the central Santa Rosa Mountains herd near La Quinta was also low with 16% lamb survival and there are approximately 155 adult bighorn in this herd.

 

*A group of yearlings




They’re Here!

The 2024 lambs are here!  We’ve seen a few lambs born in all three of our study areas so lambing season is fully underway.  That’s just a bit of the cool news.  The most amazing news is that a collared ewe in the San Jacinto Mountains by Palm Springs took her one week old lamb all the way to the northern Santa Rosa Mountains of Rancho Mirage in about eight days.  They traveled well over 10 miles, including up and over many peaks in her pursuit to join other ewes and lambs.  The irony is, there was a ewe and lamb approximately 500 meters from her when we first saw her, but she chose to cross ranges and rear her lamb elsewhere.  It’s incredible the range this ewe has and now her lamb will have this knowledge as well.

 

Lambing season extends from January to June for Peninsular bighorn with most lambs usually born between February and April. We’re in the field daily searching for lambs and pregnant ewes ready to give birth. If you see lambs while you’re out hiking, please let us know! Give us a call 760-346-7334 or email us at bi@bighorninstitute.org. However, please don’t post on social media where you see lambs as too many people can be stressful to the sheep.  We are hopeful for a more successful lambing season this year!


*The ewe and her newborn lamb rest before their long trek


 

Fence Complete

We’re pleased to announce that at the end of January, construction of the La Quinta fence was finally completed along PGA West and Lake Cahuilla; 10 years after it was mandated by the wildlife agencies.  The California Department of Fish and Wildlife plans to herd the sheep out of these urban areas in May so until then, the sheep will still have access to them.  While this fence won’t eliminate all of the urban La Quinta issues, it takes care of the most dangerous ones since many sheep have drowned in the canal, people are illegally feeding the sheep at PGA West and a host of other issues there.  The sheep will still have access to Tradition and The Quarry, but hopefully, these communities will allow a fence to be installed soon. Regardless, this will be a long-fought victory for the sheep.  A water source will be installed for them hopefully by this spring.


*Sheep just feet away from a golfer at PGA West


Member Hike

Our January Member Hike was a success and we saw 24 sheep!  Our next Member Hike will be held on Thursday, February 22nd, and will likely be more strenuous than our typical hikes, which suit all hiking abilities. Space is limited, no dogs, and you must RSVP for this first come first served hike.  To sign up or for more information, please call us at 760-346-7334 or email us at bi@bighorninstitute.org.

 





*A young ram seen on our hike from far away






Bighorn Presentation

Earlier this month, we gave a presentation for all 3rd grade students at Amelia Earhart Elementary School, over 100 kids.  It is always fun talking with young, curious kids that are excited about wildlife like bighorn sheep! If you would like a bighorn sheep presentation for your group, give us a call (760-346-7334) or email us (bi@bighorninstitute.org); we’d love to come talk to you! 







Wish List

2 pairs of binoculars - $500 - for Conservation Assistants and volunteers

Reupholster golf cart seat - $400 –we only use golf carts on our property to minimize disturbance to

our captive herd of sheep and they take a beating from the weather and our dirt roads

 

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