Bighorn sheep in California – 08/15/2005

  • October 30, 2013 at 7:20 pm #889

    Bighorn deaths concern scientists

    (more toxic lichens, maybe?),1413,206~24533~3008210,

    The sudden deaths of five endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep have
    scientists concerned there might be a major die-off that could wipe
    out the fragile, rebounding population.
    Some of the sheep appeared healthy just days before they died in the
    past two weeks. At least two died from bacterial pneumonia the cause
    of the last major die-off of Peninsular bighorn sheep and the cause
    of the other three deaths hasn’t been determined.

    Compounding fears that a die-off looms is the disappearance and
    presumed death of all but six of 25 lambs born this year in the
    northern Santa Rosa Mountains.

    The sheep, who numbered around 1,200 in the 1970s, had declined to
    about 280 by 1996. They rebounded after they were designated an
    endangered species in 1998, and their numbers are now up to about

    “You don’t usually have healthy- looking animals fall over. The big
    crisis is that five have fallen over dead,’ said Jim DeForge,
    director of the nonprofit research organization Bighorn Institute.

    U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service spokeswoman Jane Hendron said there is
    concern about the Peninsular deaths: “But at the same time we don’t
    want to speculate or jump to any conclusions about whether these are
    isolated deaths or part of a bigger trend.’

    Peninsular bighorn sheep roam the desert mountain slopes, canyons and
    washes from the Palm Springs area south into Baja California. Their
    life span is 12 to 14 years.

    The five carcasses were discovered in the San Jacinto and northern
    Santa Rosa Mountains above the Coachella Valley by institute
    researchers, who use radio collars to monitor about 30 of the wild
    sheep. Four of the dead wore collars.

    The first death was noticed July 28 and the most recent was found

    “It’s a cause of extreme concern, because the animal hasn’t reached
    recovery levels,’ local Sierra Club chapter conservation chair Joan
    Taylor told The Press-Enterprise.

    Peninsulars are among five races of bighorn sheep found in the United
    States. Three kinds live in California and Peninsular and Nelson
    bighorns are usually referred to as desert bighorns, the institute

    Nelsons populate the San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains, along
    with the deserts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, but don’t
    mix with southern range Peninsulars.

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