May 19, 2006 - The Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep (SNBS) were listed as an endangered species on Jan. 3, 2000, following emergency listing on April 20, 1999. In 1995, the SNBS reached a population low of about 100 animals, distributed across five separate areas of the southern and central Sierra Nevada.
Currently, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the California Fish and Game (CF&G) are reintroducing bighorns in the region, even without a naturally occurring population. The objective of the recovery plan is to attain population sizes and geographic distribution of bighorn sheep in the Sierra Nevada that assure long-term viability of the overall population and allow for its delisting as an endangered species.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) is in agreement with the USFWS that Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep populations should be recovered and that any recovery should be in balance with resource and agricultural interests in the region.
Unfortunately, the recovery team is considering the termination of grazing allotments as part of the plan. Determinations for bighorn habitat are being based on a belief that domestic sheep transmit pasturella during nose-to-nose contact with bighorns. This belief of disease transmission is without scientific background.
On April 26-27, 2006, the SNBS stakeholders met to discuss the draft recovery plan and took the next step in the recovery. At that time, a subcommittee was assigned to make a risk assessment of the recovery plan, including risk of disease transmission and other risks to bighorn sheep. The subcommittee will meet this summer and report findings back to the entire stakeholder group.
Staff contact: Tate Rosenbusch