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June 2024

Lambing Season Comes to a Close

Lambing season has “officially” ended for Peninsular bighorn sheep as it typically extends from January through June.  That said, there’s always a chance of an “outlier” lamb birth so we stay on the lookout for new lambs throughout the year. Lamb survival has not been good in the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs again this year; only a couple known lambs remain.  Lamb survival is faring better in the northern and central Santa Rosa herds (from Rancho Mirage south to La Quinta and beyond) with a number of lambs still alive in both areas.  However, we are cautiously optimistic since a number of lambs have shown signs of illness, especially those that use the golf courses in La Quinta.  If they survive summer, they should be well on their way to adulthood.


La Quinta Urban Issues

At the end of March, we reported that PGA West and Lake Cahuilla had finally been closed off to the sheep since the gates were closed and locked and there were just a few sheep remaining in this urban area.   Unfortunately, this fence has proven ineffective thus far since there are now around 40 sheep using the PGA West area again and the ewes and lambs are entering and leaving at will.  We’ve reported the incremental increased sheep use to the wildlife agencies and CVCC (Coachella Valley Conservation Commission) who are charged with keeping the sheep out of these areas, but other than a water district gate being left open early on, they don’t know how the sheep are getting back into PGA West.  It’s been frustrating, to say the least, since this decade-long fence isn’t doing its job. Those in charge are continuing to check the fence, but haven’t found an obvious breach.  Meanwhile, a number of the “PGA West” sheep have moved northwest and have been using Tradition golf course now, which we expected.  The sheep in La Quinta still have access to Tradition to the north and The Quarry to the south and so far, there’s no immediate plan for a fence in either of these areas, but it’s certainly needed.

*A large group of sheep at PGA West

Palm Springs Ewe – No Change

The Palm Springs ewe that has been residing in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains (NSRM) with her female lamb since January was still on the western edge of the NSRM this month with their home range in view. Unfortunately, she may be using artificial water sources from the hillside homes where she’s been residing recently.  This is disappointing because she has the range knowledge about the natural water available in the San Jacinto Mountains in Palm Springs and knows about several man-made water sources available in the NSRM.  For whatever reason, she’s foregoing that knowledge in order to stay in the area.  As always, time will tell and we’ll see where she goes and keep you posted.

*The Palm Springs ewe napping on her rock "pillow"

Urban Lamb Mortality

In early June, a young female lamb was found dead on a fairway at Bighorn Golf Club across from the Institute.  The lamb had clearly been sick so disease played a role in the cause of death.  Over the last few years, bighorn sheep have been using the golf course at Bighorn Golf Club for an artificial food and water source more and more and not just in times of drought.  They have become habituated and many lambs have been sick as a result of this high concentration, close contact like we’ve seen in La Quinta.  It’s a situation that has been kept low-key, but that has been a concern for a long time.  This is the second bighorn sheep we know of that’s died at Bighorn Golf Club so time is of the essence to get serious about keeping the sheep out of this urban area before it becomes another La Quinta fiasco.

*A sick lamb on the golf course

Waterhole Count

The Institute staff and volunteers will conduct our annual waterhole count in early July in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains.  Since bighorn sheep can go up to three days in over 100º without physically drinking water, it’s best to do the count during mid-summer when it’s hot and the sheep need to drink.  The count helps us to see how the overall population is doing and how the lambs are faring.  Since most of the herd is unmarked, it’s a useful tool to compliment our daily monitoring.  Stay tuned for the results in next month’s newsletter.

*A ewe drinks from a man-made water source in the NSRM


Wine Down Wednesday July 24th

Join us for a Wine Down Wednesday FUNdraiser July 24th from 5-7 PM at The Hideout at the Gardens on El Paseo (second floor) to support the sheep!  Hosted by Marker Broadcasting and KOOL 95.9 this fun mixer features wine tasting and appetizers for just $15 (cash only)!  We’ll also have a raffle with great prizes so hope to see you there!  All proceeds benefit the bighorn!


BI Resale Store Items Needed

Have small, high-quality items you’d like to donate to Bighorn Institute’s Resale Store at Antique Galleries of Palm Springs?  You get a tax donation, they sell it and we get the proceeds!  But, we want the good stuff, not the clutter in your garage destined for good will.  Things we could use include: jewelry, coins, bullion, pen sets, small clocks and watches, crystal, camera equipment, statuary and decorative items, antiques and collectibles, etc.  You can take your items directly to Antique Galleries of Palm Springs (505 E. Industrial Place, just south of downtown off Sunny Dunes) and ask for Mike or Thomas.  If you can’t take your items in, give us a call and we can help collect them 760-346-7334.  Thank you!


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