Whiskey Mountain bighorn sheep collaboration gets underway

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department in partnership with the Wyoming Wild Sheep Foundation, the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center, and the University of Wyoming’s Ruckleshaus Institute is announcing a public engagement process to explore management concerns, issues, and opportunities for the Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep herd.

A situation assessment was recently completed and dates for a series of public workshops and a “Bighorn Sheep Summit” have been set. All those interested in this herd are encouraged to attend and, at the Summit, meet with bighorn sheep specialists from around the country to chart a path forward for this iconic bighorn sheep herd.

This herd has struggled to recover from a catastrophic all-age die-off caused by pneumonia in 1991. It resulted in an estimated 30% decline in the number of sheep. The herd continues to stay below the desired population size primarily because lamb survival is very low likely due to the persistence of lamb pneumonia. At one time, there were an estimated 2,500 sheep in this population; today there are about 750.

“The bottom line is, we simply don’t have all the answers how to turn this important bighorn sheep population around,” says Daryl Lutz, Lander’s wildlife management coordinator. “There is much to be learned how to best address this decline and perhaps implement management strategies and projects to attempt to arrest and reverse this trend. To do this, it is clear we must consider a different approach.”

The herd continues to stay below the desired population size primarily because lamb survival is very low. At one time there were an estimated 2,500 sheep in this population; today there are about 750. Game and Fish needs your insight and ideas how to best manage this herd. (WGFD)

All collaborative workshops will be held in Dubois at the Headwaters Arts and Conference Center (20 Stalnaker Street) from 6:00 pm- 9:00 pm each of the following evenings:

  • February 11, 2019 — Public workshop to summarize the situation assessment and exploration of issues.
  • March 14, 2019 — Bighorn Sheep Summit – discussion with “outside” experts about technical and scientific information regarding disease, predation, habitat and other aspects of this bighorn sheep herd.
  • April 3, 2019 — Public workshop to craft solutions to improve herd conditions.
  • June 5, 2019 — Public workshop to present draft strategy for public input, discussion, and refinement.

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