May 5, 2015

Yosemite's Endangered Sheep Return From Vacation

Just about everyone who comes to visit us here in Yosemite National Park does so to enjoy nature. And apart from fabled hikes and scenic cliff views, our guests now have something extra special to watch out for:

300-lb bighorn sheep with GPS tracking devices, hanging from helicopters.

Yes! In an ABC News brief this week, we learned that the bighorn sheep, placed on the Federal Endangered Species list in 1999, through the (quite luxurious) use of helicopter transport, are now on their way to recovery home in Yosemite National Park!

Here are the highlights of this news:

  • For the first time in a century, endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are back on their ancestral range and headed towards recovery, wildlife officials said Monday.
  • Thousands of the sheep once roamed the Sierra Nevada, but overhunting and disease spread by domesticated sheep herds caused near-extinction
  • Between 1914 and 1986, no bighorn roamed Yosemite, and statewide their numbers hit a low of about 100. The animals were placed on the Federal Endangered Species list in 1999.
  • The Yosemite Conservancy has donated over $630,000 in the past two decades to support Yosemite's bighorn sheep.

Thinking you'd like to catch a glimpse during your stay in Yosemite? Not so fast.

Yosemite wildlife biologists said, "only the most intrepid park visitors will ever see the sheep that roam high in the backcountry, at elevations above 7,500 feet". The biologists also stated that helping the sheep recover will right a wrong.

UPDATE: In May 2015, California Fish and Wildlife found three recently born lambs! Lambing is expected to continue over the next couple of months.

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