WGFD is exploring the opportunity to reintroduce bighorn sheep to the Sweetwater Rocks area. Photo: Jared Fisher // USFS

WYOMING — The Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) is in the process of evaluating the potential to re-introduce bighorn sheep into the Sweetwater Rocks area, says the department.

Public meetings will be held at 6 p.m. on Nov. 4, 2021, at the Jeffrey City Fire Hall, and on Nov. 9, 2021, at Lander Regional Office of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department.

This evaluation is the result of a local landowner’s request to the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to consider the merits of reintroducing bighorn sheep into this portion of Wyoming.

According to a report by WGFD, bighorn sheep can be found in Wyoming in four core herds in the Absaroka, Teton, Gros Ventre, and Wind River mountain ranges. Ten smaller herds that have been augmented or re-established via transplants occur in the Wyoming, Snowy, Sierra Madre, and Laramie mountain ranges, as well as the Seminoe and Ferris Mountains, the southern end of the Wind River Mountains, west slope of the Bighorn Mountains, the Black Hills, and Wind River Canyon.

Image: WGFD

In 2014, the WGFD estimated there were 6,450 Bighorn Sheep in Wyoming, which includes approximately 200 in Yellowstone National Park and 100 in Grand Teton National Park. The large core herds in the northwest corner of the state account for over 85% of Wyoming’s statewide total and represent some of the largest meta-populations of Bighorn Sheep throughout its range. Still, the fragmented pattern of habitat and population segments in Wyoming is an important management consideration, states WGFD.

A Teton range Bighorn Sheep Working Group presented findings and recommendations during a public meeting on Oct. 20. The group recommends a number of winter closures in Grand Teton National Park, Bridger-Teton National Forest and Caribou-Targhee National Forest. No decisions have been made.

The assessment and any subsequent actions will be in strict accordance with the “State-wide Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Interaction Plan” pursuant to Wyoming State Statute 11-19-604..

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.