Wyoming Game and Fish Department

Timothy Hill

Daily life is rather good in the Higher Green, if you happen to be a bighorn sheep!


Before this wintertime, the Wyoming Video game and Fish Department, in cooperation with University of Wyoming wildlife researchers from the Monteith Store, captured bighorn sheep in the higher Eco-friendly River drainage north Pinedale to measure the animals’ body condition and assess the total general performance for this section of the Whiskey Mountain herd. And what they’re getting is rather shocking.

This is element of on-going analysis looking at three different bighorn sheep herds, The Higher Shoshone herd in the Absaroka Assortment close to Cody, the Whiskey Mountain herd in the Wind River Selection amongst Dubois and Pinedale and the Jackson herd in the Gros Ventre Assortment close to Jackson.

Dean Clause Pinedale Wildlife Biologist for the Wyoming Game and Fish Division and Rusty Kaiser Wildlife Biologist for the Bridger Teton National Forest acquire measurements on a ewe bighorn sheep on a chilly morning close to Reduced Green River Lake earlier this wintertime.

Like numerous bighorn sheep herds across the West, these herds have struggled with pneumonia. Having said that, not all sheep herds with pneumonia have responded the exact same – some expertise a slow decline, some working experience crash-restoration cycles and still some others present minor drop at all. This research seeks to fully grasp why the big difference, and some indicator is already being witnessed from in the identical herd.

The Whiskey Mountain herd, as soon as amongst the major populations of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep, has been in continuous decrease considering that the early 1990s, mainly owing to pneumonia. The herd spans both sides of the Continental Divide in the northern Wind River Assortment. Even though these sheep occupy the identical basic location of the Winds, researchers with the Monteith Shop have identified distinct distinctions involving the sheep on the Dubois side of the Divide vs. individuals on the Pinedale facet.  

Dr. Kevin Monteith (L) and University of Wyoming graduate university student Brittany Wagler collar a ewe bighorn sheep and take other biological samples as portion of their on-heading investigate in the Upper Eco-friendly north of Pinedale earlier this wintertime.

The sheep on the Dubois aspect shift seasonally in between superior elevation summer months assortment and lower elevation wintertime range. These are popular large sport seasonal actions and commonly these populations perform effectively. But habitat assessments have proven that these sheep have relatively very poor summer season forage, normally have to travel for a longer period distances to get their calories and continually have proven weak physique problem when captured, which has led to extremely inadequate lamb survival. 

Nevertheless, the sheep on the Pinedale facet of the Divide stay at substantial elevation yr round, have significantly far better summer months forage, have been some of the fattest sheep scientists have monitored and have significantly superior lamb survival. Lambs that have been captured in the Upper Inexperienced this wintertime had 11 percent fat, which is incredibly impressive. And some of these ewes that shell out 12 months round in the significant peaks are fatter, even right after elevating a lamb, than sheep from the Dubois-side that lost their lamb.

Bottom line, existence for bighorn sheep in the Upper Eco-friendly is wanting rather superior when in contrast to their counterparts on the other aspect of the hill. And this analysis is providing Activity and Fish supervisors additional detailed info than they’ve ever had, which will guide to improved management selections for the sheep. 


– WGFD –


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