Study: Bighorn sheep vulnerable to new diseases

Bighorn sheep Colorado

Bighorn sheep gather along the edge of U.S. Highway 6 near Loveland Pass. Colorado. bberwyn photo.

Research to help guide management

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Federal wildlife biologists tracking population declines in bighorn sheep say the animals may be vulnerable to new threats, including chronic wasting disease, found in ungulates with overlapping habitat in parts of the West.

A new U.S. Geological Survey study shows those diseases are occurring in or near natural bighorn sheep environments. These fatal diseases are caused by mysterious proteins called prions, and are known to infect domestic sheep (scrapie) and non-domestic deer, elk, and moose (CWD). The USGS study is published in the journal BMC Veterinary Research, and is available online. Continue reading

Colorado: Input wanted on San Juan bighorn sheep plan

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Colorado Parks and Wildlife is seeking input on bighorn sheep management in the San Juans. Bob Berwyn photo.

State biologists modernizing bighorn management statewide

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Bighorn sheep, Colorado’s state animal, have had their ups and downs over the years, but most populations in the central San Juans seem fairly stable. As part of a statewide update of bighorn sheep management, Colorado wildlife biologists want to hear from stakeholders as they finalize a  management plan for the Central San Juan herds.

The purpose of the plan for this herd and the location area, referred to as RBS-22, is to assess the current and historical status of the population and determine future management objectives that will span up to a 10-year period. RBS-22 encompasses portions of Gunnison, Hinsdale, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache counties and includes bighorn sheep Game Management Unit’s S-22 San Luis Peak, S-36 Bellows Creek, S-52 Rock Creek, and S-53 Bristol Head. Continue reading

Colorado: Biologists launch bighorn sheep study

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Bighorn sheep in Colorado. Photo courtesy Colorado Division of Wildlife.

Tracking Aspen-area herds may help conservation efforts

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With bighorn sheep herds in the Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness declining due to respiratory disease, Colorado Parks and Wildlife managers want to know if interaction with domestic sheep herds is a factor.

To track the movements of bighorn sheep in Pitkin and Gunnison counties, biologists and wildlife technicians recently captured 10 bighorn sheep rams and fitted them with special collars that will transmit location data. The operation was the start of a new, cooperative study with the U.S. Forest Service to monitor the movements and distribution of rams from three herds in the area. Continue reading

Elk, bighorn sheep studied in southern Colorado

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Colorado biologists to study bighorn sheep herds in the San Juans. PHOTO COURTESY CDOW.

Biologists learning more about big game movement in the San Juans

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY —Colorado Parks and Wildlife Biologists are studying how elk and bighorn sheep in southern Colorado move in an effort to better manage some of the state’s charismatic wildlife.

“These studies will help us to learn important information about the elk and bighorn populations in this area of Colorado,” said Stephanie Steinhoff, terrestrial biologist for Colorado Parks and Wildlife in the San Luis Valley.

The studies are being conducted in the south San Juan Mountains on the west side of the San Luis Valley and east of Pagosa Springs.

In the elk study, 25 animals — eight bulls and 17 cows — were captured and fitted with VHF radio collars which allow biologists to track the animals’ movements from the air. The animals were captured in mid-February. At least part of the elk herd migrates into New Mexico, but wildlife biologists are not sure how far they go. Continue reading

Colorado biologists boosting bighorn sheep herds

Successful transplant increases numbers in northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists take blood samples while transplanting bighorn sheep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO PARKS AND WILDLIFE.

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A herd of bighorn sheep in the Sangre de Cristo mountains gained nine new animals recently, as Colorado Parks and Wildlife biologists completed a second translocation of sheep captured in the southern part of the range.

The nine bighorn sheep join 13 others that were moved into the mountains of northeastern Saguache County in a similar operation in 2010.

Before 2010, the northern Sangre de Cristo Mountains had not had bighorn sheep since the 198os. In the southern part of the range, bighorm sheep have been thriving, providing a good source for the transplant. Visit this Colorado Parks and Wildlife website to learn more about the state’s bighorn conservation efforts. Continue reading

Colorado: Aspen-area habitat restoration project gets OK

A massive habitat restoration project in the Roaring Fork Valley will improve habitat for bighorn sheep and other wildlife with mechanical treatments and controlled burns.

Forest Service tackles 10-year project in the Roaring Fork Valley

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — With development rapidly eating up wildlife habitat along the bottomlands of Roaring Fork Valley, the U.S. Forest Service is going to try and make some large-scale improvements on national forest lands during the coming decade.

White River National Forest supervisor Scott Fitzwilliams last week approved the Aspen-Sopris Wildlife Habitat Improvement Project, which will use a combination of mechanical treatments and controlled burns to reinvigorate vegetation and improve wildlife conditions for bighorn sheep, mule deer, elk and a variety of other native wildlife that inhabit fire-adapted vegetation communities. All the environmental documents for the project are online at the WRNF website. Continue reading

Colo. Wildlife Commission opposes Over the River project

A rendering of what the finished art project might look like. From the Over the River website. Click on the image to visit Over the River online.

Impacts to bighorn sheep a concern for state wildlife biologists, other conservation groups concerned about aquatic habitat

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Citing concerns about impacts to wildlife, especially bighorn sheep, the Colorado Wildlife Commission will oppose the Over the River landscape art project, proposed for the Arkansas River.

The commissioners decided at their meeting last week to send a letter of opposition to the Bureau of Land Management, the federal permitting agency for the project. Click here to visit the BLM website for the project. Continue reading

Bighorn sheep make comeback in the Hayman burn area

Bighorn sheep, seen here near Loveland Pass, have been reintroduced in the area burned by the Hayman Wildfire.

Colorado Division of Wildlife transplants 12 animals from the Rampart Range herd

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — The largest wildfire in Colorado’s recorded history was a nightmare for residents of the South Platte drainage, destroying 133 homes and causing $40 million in damages, but it also transformed parts of the landscape into a big-game paradise, according to Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists, who recently released a new band of bighorn sheep into the Hayman area.

Click here to see video from the Hayman burn and the bighorn sheep release.

“Bighorn sheep are one of our most prized wildlife species and this was historically bighorn range,” said Janet George, a senior terrestrial biologist with the Division’s Northeast Region. “It is gratifying to be able to do something good by bringing them back to a place like this.” Continue reading

Colorado predator control programs approved

Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists may help a transplanted population of desert bighorn sheep survive by kiilling mountain lions. PHOTO VIA THE CREATIVE COMMONS.

State wildlife agency wins permission to kill coyotes and mountain lions to protect sage grouse and desert bighorn sheep

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists this week won permission from the state wildlife commission to protect sage grouse and desert bighorn sheep by killing coyotes and possibly mountain lions.

One of the predator control programs is aimed at preventing the predation of sage grouse nests in and around the Dan Noble state wildlife area, near Telluride. The second program involves controlling mountain lions that may be preying on a small re-introduced herd of bighorn sheep in Middle Dolores Canyon. Continue reading

Bighorn sheep transplanted to northern Sangre de Cristos

CDOW biologists place a radio collar on a bighorn sheep before releasing it in the northern Sangre de Cristos. PHOTO COURTESY COLORADO DIVISION OF WILDLIFE.

State wildlife agency working to restore population in good habitat

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Colorado Division of Wildlife biologists transferred 13 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from the crags of the southern Sangre de Cristo to the northern part of the range, where they haven’t lived since the 1980s.

Since the bighorns are thriving in the southern Sangres, the division decided to take advantage of an opportunity to reestablish Colorado’s state animal to another part of its historic range. Continue reading

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