Bighorn sheep are making a comeback in the Range of Light.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), in conjunction with Yosemite, Sequoia, and Kings Canyon National Parks, completed the first phase of a bighorn sheep restoration program earlier this week. Nine ewes (full-grown females) and three rams were released into the Cathedral Range of Yosemite and seven ewes were moved to the Laurel Creek area of Sequoia National Park, with three rams to follow later.
“With this week’s reintroductions, we now have bighorn distributed throughout all geographic areas identified as critical habitat,” said Tom Stephenson, leader of the Recovery Program with CDFW toldNational Parks Traveler.
The bighorn sheep is the only federally endangered mammal known to reside permanently in the Sierra Nevada range. In 2000, the population plummeted to only about 100, before being restored to about 600 in recent years.
This week's release marks the first step in a muti-year recovery effort for the species. Each newly-introduced sheep has been fitted with fitted with a radio collar and a GPS collar in order to allow biologists to track the animals' health, safety, and movements over the next several years.
Read more: National Parks Traveler