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March 2024

Fence Gates are CLOSED!

We are beyond thrilled to let you know that the La Quinta fence gates were closed on March 29th! It’s taken just over 10 years since required by the wildlife agencies, but the fence along PGA West and Lake Cahuilla was completed at the end of January and now the sheep are closed off from this dangerous urban area.  At the end of March, we notified the wildlife agencies that very few sheep were using the golf course and it would be an opportune time to close the gates.  They had planned to close them in May.  On Friday, March 29th, a group of 10 of us (including U.S. Fish and Wildlife, CA Fish and Wildlife, Coachella Valley Association of Governments, Coachella Valley Water District and the Institute) went in the field to see if we could see sheep on the urban-side of the fence and we saw none so the decision was made to close the gates.  While closing the gates, five ewes were spotted down on the golf course, but we knew this would not be a one-and-done event. The sheep have been fenced out of a large amount of mountain habitat and some sheep only use this habitat along with the golf course.  Having a few stragglers is a much better scenario than trying to herd 60 ewes, lambs and rams off of the golf course later in the year.  The next step is to develop a plan to safely relocate the remaining sheep from the urban side of the fence to the wild side.  Stay tuned, but this is a huge accomplishment and milestone for the safety of the sheep since so many have died in this area!


*The fence as it goes up and over the top of the mountain




Spring Fling Fast Approaching

Join us Tuesday, April 16th from 5pm-7pm for our 6th Annual Spring Fling fundraiser!  This fun-filled evening at the ultra-exclusive Stone Eagle Golf Club includes amazing views, a delicious dinner, live and silent auctions and more!  Tickets are $200/person.  Would you consider being a sponsor?  Sponsorship is $1,000 and includes 2 tickets to the Spring Fling plus advertising.  Sponsorships are totally tax-deductible!  Invitations have been mailed.  For more information or to buy tickets, visit our website www.bighorninstitute.org/fundraisers or give us a call at 760-346-7334.


*Click the photo for full invitation




Breakfast with the Bighorn

Our 3rd Annual Breakfast with the Bighorn fundraiser was great fun and we appreciate all who came and donated auction items for future events!   Kept to just 35 guests, this member mixer was a great opportunity to spend more time visiting while we enjoyed a delicious catered breakfast by J’s Deli and looked for the captive sheep through a spotting scope!  The weather couldn’t have been better and the sheep made a showing.  Thanks to all who were able to join us and for your incredible generosity!





Lamb Update

We documented a few more lambs in our study areas in March, but it appears most have already been born.  However, lambing season continues through June so we may see more in the coming months.  Many of the lambs were born in January and are now two months old, but some are already showing signs of illness.  It’s at this age that they are most vulnerable to disease when they’ve come off of their mother’s immunity and are building their own.  Hopefully, they’ll survive, but several have already been lost, particularly in the Palm Springs herd.  That said, the Palm Springs ewe that’s been in the northern Santa Rosa’s with her lamb is thriving as is her lamb.  They’ve been in and out of various nursery groups moving all around learning the area for the future.

 

Please let us know if you see lambs when you’re out hiking since most of the ewes are unmarked.  You can call 760-346-7334 or email us at bi@bighorninstitute.org. However, please don’t post on social media where you see lambs as it often attracts others and too many people can be stressful to the ewes with their newborns.





Member Hike

Our last member hike of the season took place Friday, March 22nd and it was a success. We saw 14 sheep including 3 lambs! We’ve had a wonderful season of Member Hikes and saw sheep on every outing. We would love to have you join us when they resume in the fall. In the meantime, if you’re out hiking and see sheep, please log your sightings into Bighorn Institute’s project in iNaturalist.  It’s free and helps us keep track of the sheep.  For more information visit our website: www.BighornInstitute.org/inaturalist-project


*A few members look at the sheep circled



Bighorn Presentation

Earlier this month, we gave a presentation to the Sun City Hiking Club. It was a great group and we always welcome opportunities to educate others about the sheep and our work. If you would like a bighorn sheep presentation for your group, give us a call (760-346-7334) or email us (bi@bighorninstitute.org). 





Electric Truck

We would like to give a huge thank you to one of the Institute’s board members, Judy Sanders, for donating a brand new Colt electric golf cart truck!  This truck will be a tremendous help with work on our property such as moving dirt to fix the driveway, hauling trimmed vegetation, and much more.  It also makes a great shuttle during events at the Institute such as the breakfast. Thank you, Judy, for your incredibly generous donation!



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