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Bighorn Sheep Distribution Returning to Historic Numbers

Six decades ago, bighorn sheep distribution in North America was drastically reduced. The North American bighorn population was estimated at fewer than 25,000 in 1960.

But conservation and land management efforts have helped increase numbers to more than 85,000 in 2012, the Wild Sheep Foundation reports.

WSF says “through collaborative efforts between conservation organizations…and our network of chapters and affiliates, state and provincial fish and game departments, public and crown land-management agencies, private landowners and other supporters, North American bighorn distribution has greatly increased over the past 60 years.”

Collaborative efforts were launched that included the Wild Sheep Foundation and other conservation groups as well as state and provincial wildlife agencies in the U.S. and Canada and private landowners.

Historically, the range for bighorn sheep in North America has extended from northern Mexico to the Canadian Rockies and included 14 western U.S. states. Those states are Washington, Oregon, California, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and New Mexico.

By 2012, the bighorn range still touched each of those states but the sheep’s footprint had been severely depleted. However, thanks to conservation efforts of groups like the Wild Sheep Foundation and private landowners, that footprint is growing back toward its original reach.

Feb 21, 2018 -

More information is available at WildSheepFoundation.org.

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