May 2021

Sheep Expanding Habitat

While the pandemic has been a nightmare for most, some positive has possibly come of it from a wildlife perspective. Bighorn sheep in the San Jacinto Mountains near Palm Springs historically used habitat north of Chino Canyon where the Palm Springs

Aerial Tram is located. There’s a long road leading up the canyon to the tram station. However, when the Peninsular bighorn population drastically dropped in 1996, we didn’t document bighorn movement north of Chino Canyon for years. In 2006, we released three rams north of Chino into Blaisdell Canyon and they were successful utilizing this historic habitat and even mixed with the main herd during the rut. Those rams perished and it wasn’t until a few years ago we received reports of rams north of Chino Canyon, which we confirmed. This was exciting news as the population was on the rise and the sheep were expanding their habitat use. We’ve been wondering if/when ewes might cross Tram Road and move north again and this year, it happened. Several ewes spent some time north of Chino and the reason may have been because Tram Road was closed during this time from the pandemic. Pretty exciting! Although, with the great news that the pandemic is coming to an end, the Tram Road is fully open again so we’ll see if these sheep movements continue. (Pictured: Chino Canyon photo, Tom Brewster)