New Mexico Wildlife

New Mexico Department of Game and Fish

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Last Updated: 9/19/2012

 

Bighorn Sheep Management Program Updates

 

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Translocation

 

Thirty-one bighorn sheep were transplanted out of the Wheeler Peak Wilderness in August 2012.  Reducing the number of bighorn sheep helps ensure that there are adequate resources to sustain the animals through the winter, which helps prevent dieoffs from disease or other factors, and promotes growth of trophy quality rams.  These bighorn were transplanted to augment the remnant Manzanos herd southeast of Albuquerque.  Biologists will monitor the radiocollared animals to ascertain if the transplant is successful.

 

Loading bighorn into the trailer
Bighorn sheep being loaded into the transport trailer

Bighorn ewe

A bighorn ewe waits to be loaded into the transport trailer.
Bighorn transplant

Desert Bighorn Capture

 

In December 2012, 6 bighorn sheep rams were transplanted out of the Red Rock captive facility and released into the Ladron Mountains.  All rams were radiocollared and will allow biologists to continue monitoring the herd.  An additional 20 bighorn ewes were captured in the Peloncillo Mountains.  All ewes were radiocollared and the 18 pregnant ewes received vaginal implant transmitters.  These transmitters emit a pulse until the lamb is born.  At this time the transmitter is deployed and emits a different signal indicating the lamb has been born.  Once this occurs, the lambs can be hand-captured and fitted with a radio collar to monitor survival and causes of mortality.

Welcome Graduate Students!!

 

 

The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish would like to welcome Rebekah Karsch to the desert bighorn sheep project.  Rebekah is a graduate student at New Mexico State University under Dr. James Cain.  She is researching causes of lamb mortality and will be placing radio collars on neonate lambs in the Peloncillo Mountains this winter.  Rebekah has a Bachelors degree in Biology from James Madison University, and has worked on a variety of wildlife projects including a predator/prey study involving white-tailed deer, bears, bobcats, coyotes, and grey wolves in Michigan.

Rebekah Karsch

Kyle Garrison The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish would like to welcome Kyle Garrison to the desert bighorn sheep project.  Kyle is a graduate student at New Mexico State University under Dr. James Cain.  He is researching the foraging ecology of desert bighorn, specifically the potential impacts of cattle grazing on desert bighorn sheep foraging ecology and resources. This research is being conducted in the un-grazed San Andres and grazed Caballo desert bighorn populations in southern New Mexico. Kyle has a Bachelors degree in Wildlife Biology from the University of Montana, and has worked on a variety of wildlife projects prior to coming to New Mexico

 

 

Desert Bighorn Rams Arrive From Coahuila, Mexico

Bighorn rams from Mexico

Photo: E. Rominger.  Desert bighorn rams imported from Coahuila, Mexico at the Red Rock Wildlife Management Area

 

 

Ten desert bighorn rams from the Pilares facility in Coahuila, Mexico were introduced into a quarantine facility at the Red Rock Wildlife Management Area in February, 2011, and released into the main part of Red Rock in May 2011.  In the winters of 2009 and 2010, New Mexico sent approximately 300 pronghorn to Mexico.  As part of the exchange agreement, Mexico sent 10 desert bighorn to New Mexico from the Pilares Wildlife Management Area owned by Cemex.  The rams will remain in Red Rock to sire future generations of bighorn who can then be transplanted into the wild to increase desert bighorn population numbers in New Mexico.

 

 

The annual Red Rock ground census was conducted in May 2012 to determine the number of desert bighorn in the captive breeding facility. This year, 70 bighorn were counted during survey.  These numbers are essential for knowing how many bighorn are available for transplant into the wild, and thus are a major component in setting the desert bighorn sheep transplant schedule.

bighorn rams

Photo - M. Birkhauser.  Group of desert bighorn rams at Red Rock.

 

 

`San Andre desert bighorn rams

Desert bighorn rams in the San Andres Mountains

Photo: R. Grey

Fall helicopter surveys were flown in 2012 to monitor herd size and lamb recruitment in desert bighorn herds. Click here to see detailed results of the desert surveys, and here to see detailed results of the Rocky surveys.

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