Updated June 28, 2022 - 5:32 pm
Some desert bighorn sheep from Nevada have been given an important mission: Help rebuild a neighboring state’s bighorn population.
The Nevada Department of Wildlife joined forces with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources to capture desert bighorn sheep at Valley of Fire State Park and transport the animals to Utah, where a new “nursery” is being set up at the privately owned SkyRider Wilderness Ranch in Duchesne County.
Officials say 30 sheep — four rams and 26 ewes and lambs — were captured during the two-day operation, which concluded on Tuesday.
In addition to helping establish the nursery, Nevada officials say, the roundup was meant to reduce pressure on water resources for the sheep in the Muddy Mountains.
“We have a population of desert bighorn sheep that’s doing well in this area,” said Erin Wood, a wildlife biologist with the Nevada Department of Wildlife. “But we’ve experienced pretty extreme drought the last two years, and concerns about the conditions of the range and the forage quality have led us to sort of look into ways to reduce that population” to ensure the habitat can continue to sustain the sheep.
After they were captured, the sheep received health assessments, collars and ear tags before being taken to their new home in Utah, where they will be fenced off and protected from hunters.
“We will maintain a viable number of desert bighorn sheep on this property, and the additional animals will be relocated to other Utah areas to help supplement those bighorn sheep populations or to start new herds,” Riley Peck, once-in-a-lifetime species coordinator with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, said in a press release.