August 22, 2008
August 22, 2008 - New Mexico's state Game Commission is considering downlisting the desert bighorn sheep now that it is rebounding. The proposal to downlist the sheep from endangered to threatened is part of the state Department of Game and Fish's biennial review.
Game commissioners approved a recommendation Thursday to open public comment on a revised draft of the review. The commission is expected to make a final decision on the downlisting proposal this fall.
Currently, there are more than 400 desert bighorn in New Mexico - more than three times the number recorded when the sheep were at their lowest in 2001.
Department officials credit the population growth to an aggressive transplant program and a mountain lion management program. After putting radio collars on the sheep, biologists were able to determine that 85 percent of the known causes of mortality resulted from lion depredation.
"Our goal is not to have them downlisted to threatened," Elise Goldstein, a bighorn sheep biologist with the department, said. "It's to have them off the list, and in addition to having them delisted altogether, it's to repopulate their historic range." Reprinted in part from Associated Press