We have decided to cancel the bighorn field trip this Friday, January 27, 2017. The roads are still snowy and sheep are just not accessible at this time. We are sad to cancel, but it doesn't look feasible for this week. Our next trip is scheduled for February 24. Please email if you would like to join us then.
Winter and early spring is the time of year when Sierra bighorn are most easily found and viewed before they retreat to higher elevations.
We partner with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife to provide free public field trips to view Sierra bighorn. Tentative dates for 2017 are January 27 (updated 1/12/17), February 24 and April 22. Typically very little walking is required. Watch this website for times and further information, as these field trips are highly weather dependent. Pre-registration is required.
You can also set up a private one-day field trip with Dr. Wehausen for a $1,500 donation to the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation. Contact us via email if interested.
SNBF presents field trips on Sierra bighorn in coordination with The Mono Lake Committee for their Chautauqua in late June (half day) and a weekend field seminar in September, both led by Dr. John Wehausen.
The Yosemite Conservancy has overnight backpacking trips focused on Sierra bighorn that Dr. John Wehausen participates in with Yosemite wildlife biologist Sarah Stock
In late fall, 2016, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation and other agencies collared ewes and lambs. Four rams were translocated to Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park and five rams went into the Cathedral herd in Yosemite National Park. We are hoping for a big crop of lambs in spring of 2017.
See the Yosemite Conservancy website for more details on this exciting addition to the Cathedral Range herd. Be sure to scroll down to see an action shot of the release.
Thanks to Caitlin Kohl for these photos of rams in the Arrowhead - Rae Lakes area taken in late September.
It's been a little over a year since biologists released Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep into Yosemite's Cathedral Range, marking the return of the species to its historical habitat for the first time in more than 100 years. Read about the current status of the Cathedral Range herd on the Yosemite Conservancy website.
The 29th Annual Kids Fishing Festival, Snow Creek Ponds on Old Mammoth Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA. The Kids Fishing Festival begins at 8:00 AM and ends at 1:00 PM. You’d think we’d have a Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Festival, but trout outnumber Sierra bighorn sheep by a zillion to one. Besides trout are easier to see. It isn’t necessary to hike to 11,600 feet of elevation to see a trout! If you have a child age 14 and under this is a chance to have a second trout dinner. Bring your own rod and reel or use the ones furnished.
For information about this fabulous event and all the great vendors see the Kids Fishing Festival webpage.
For additional information please contact Gaye Mueller at 760-937-2942.
Trout Fest at Hot Creek Fish Hatchery, 121 Hot Creek Hatchery Road, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93456. The Trout fest begins at 9:00 AM and ends at 1:00 PM. Come and learn about our local, native, endangered Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep, and all there is to know about local trout. This event is for under 15 year old children and is a fantastic, comprehensive, introduction to fishing. All equipment is supplied. With good luck the family will leave with trout for dinner.
For more information see the Trout Fest webpage.
To volunteer contact Jana Lieran
Join us for a celebration of endangered species, their habitats and watersheds
Date: Sunday, May 22, 2016
Time: 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM
Where: Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center: 2510 Main Street, Mammoth Lakes CA
The Mammoth Lakes Welcome Center is located one mile (1.6 km) off U.S. Highway 395 on State Route 203, at the entrance to the town of Mammoth Lakes, California.
Local endangered species
Why habitat preservation is important
What you can do to help endangered species
• Ridgecrest Chapter of the California Turtle and Tortoise Club.
• Department of Fish and Wildlife Amphibians and Fish
• Eastern Sierra Interpretive Association~skulls and skins
• US Fish and Wildlife Service
• Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation
Would you like some of Julie Rolfe’s original bighorn art? Please bring a washed T-shirt or onesie.
Two recently taken photos of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep courtesy of Dale Matson.
Dr. John Wehausen
$165 per person / $150 for members
This field seminar will involve discussions of the fascinating biology of the federally endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, their relationship with other mammals (including mountain lions and humans), and their conservation in the field. Past participants saw bighorn 15 out of the last 16 years—while there is a very good chance of seeing bighorn sheep during this seminar, there is no guarantee. Dr. John Wehausen has been studying the Sierra Nevada bighorn and working for their conservation since 1974. Please be aware that this seminar involves very strenuous hiking at the 10,000-foot elevation and above.
Several spectacular photos, courtesy of Christopher James Cleveland, from the Sierra bighorn field trip that took place on February 14, 2016.
Look for the next Sierra bighorn field trip April 23, 2016 in coordination with the Bishop, CA Earth Day celebration. In addition to the field trip there will be a booth in Bishop Park. To sign up for the field trip email ASKSNBS@wildlife.ca.gov.
Results from the Wheeler Herd Unit survey are in - a total of 86 bighorn were counted including 41 adult ewes, 4 yearling ewes, 3 unclassified ewes (48 total ewes), 6 yearling rams, 17 lambs, and 1 unclassified bighorn. Fourteen adult rams were also observed; 7 of those were classified as two-year olds. Much gratitude to the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program for the population count!
The February 2016 count of endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep at the Olancha Peak (southernmost) herd unit revealed 16 Sierra Nevada bighorns! Counted were 1 ram, 7 ewes, 3 yearling females, 1 yearling male and 4 lambs. We hope there are more hiding back in the canyons. Thanks to California Department of Fish and Wildlife for the update.
January's Sierra Nevada bighorn field trip has been rescheduled for Friday, February 12. Once again, we will meet at 9 a.m. at the Bishop CDFW office parking lot in Cottonwood Plaza, 787 N. Main St. Suite 220. Please wear sturdy boots and bring sunscreen, snacks, water, and binoculars if you have your own. Please email Cody or call 873-3260 to reserve your spot.
The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep field trip scheduled for January 30, 2016 has been cancelled due to weather. The field trip will be rescheduled - watch this blog for the new date.
The California Department of Fish & Wildlife and the Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation will hold their first field trip of 2016 to observe Sierra bighorn in their winter habitat. This trip will take place on Saturday, January 30th. We will meet at 9 a.m. at the CDFW office parking lot in Cottonwood Plaza, 787 N. Main St. Suite 220, Bishop CA. Please wear sturdy boots and bring sunscreen, snacks, water, and binoculars if you have your own. Space is limited; please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (760) 873-3260 for reservations, directions, or more details!
We also plan to host a field trip in February, date TBD. Please let me know if you would like to join—space is limited and these fill up fast! Also note that the CDFW office has moved to the Cottonwood Plaza.
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are the rarest mountain sheep in North America. After the population dropped to around 100 animals in 1995, this unique sub-species was listed as an endangered species. In the spring of 2015, these charismatic animals were released into the heart of Yosemite for the first time in over 100 years. View Yosemite Nature Notes Episode 27, a video produced by Steven M. Bumgardner, that covers the reintroduction
The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Recovery Program implemented the first successful reintroduction of a new herd of Sierra bighorn since 1988! The new herd, centered at Olancha Peak, contains ten ewes and four rams.
“This is the first reintroduction effort of a new herd of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep since 1988,” said Tom Stephenson, CDFW bighorn recovery program leader.
Historically, Sierra bighorn were abundant throughout the Sierra Nevada; however, by the 1970s, only two herds remained. Disease spread by domestic sheep and unregulated commercial hunting are believed to have caused their demise.
“Many endangered species remain on the brink of extinction with poor prospects for recovery after they receive federal protection,” said Stephenson. “Through our conservation efforts, we have a unique opportunity to reach recovery goals for an alpine specialist that is native only to California.”
During the week of March 25, 2013 10 female and four male bighorn sheep were captured from two of the largest existing herds in the Sierra Nevada and reintroduced to the vacant herd unit of Olancha Peak at the southern end of the range in Inyo County. Six additional females were moved to two small northern herds, Convict Creek and Mount Gibbs, for augmentation of those herds.
Following this recent effort, there are now 10 herds of Sierra bighorn between Owens Lake and Mono Lake. Three additional herds are needed to meet recovery goals. The population currently numbers around 500 animals and is up considerably from a low of just over 100 animals.