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Nine Endangered Bighorn Lambs Born In Local Mountains, Earliest Ever

The first bighorn lamb was spotted Jan. 3 in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains.

Nine Peninsular bighorn lambs were documented last month in the northern Santa Rosa Mountains, according to the Palm Desert-based Bighorn Institute.

The first lamb, which was discovered Jan. 3, was born to a radio-collared ewe that is monitored by the Bighorn Institute -- a nonprofit that researches the endangered Peninsular bighorn sheep.

“This is very exciting not only because the lambing season is underway, but also because this is the earliest we have ever documented a lamb being born,’’ the Big horn Institute wrote in its January newsletter.

Lambing season for the endangered bighorn sheep is normally January through June.

The bighorn sheep are an endangered species that require protection under the Endangered Species Act, according to Steve Harris, outdoor recreation planner with the Bureau of Land Management.

The species, which inhabit desert slopes from Palm Springs to Baja, Mexico, has been in decline because of disease and habitation loss because of development, according to the Bighorn Institute.

Pregnant female peninsular bighorns usually separate from other sheep before giving birth and remain alone with the lamb for a few days.

“After that, ewes with lambs group up for herd vigilance and convenience, allowing mothers to browse while other ewes watch the young lambs,’’ according to the organization.

During lambing season, bighorn sheep are “very vulnerable to human disturbance,’’ the Bighorn Institute wrote.

Because of this, Magnesia and Carrizo canyons have been closed to hikers.

“We hope all hikers respect the small inconvenience of these closures to help recover this endangered species,’’ the Institute said.

Magnesia Canyon is near the upper Bump and Grind Trail, which has been closed for more than a decade. Hikers have largely ignored the closure because of the trail's popularity.

A gate will be installed at the head of the upper trail later this month, according to Harris. Read more or watch a video about the gate closure .

P J E February 06, 2011 at 02:40 PM
All for it! We must do our part to protect and enable life!
Hal February 06, 2011 at 06:28 PM
Bump and Grind does not abut Magnesia Falls Canyon. It is actually quite a distance away and is separated by a fence. Obviously, hikers are not having an impact on the Sheep. If they were, they wouldn't be breeding at an unprecedented rate. The local authorities need to get over their hatred of hikers and their desire for a private playground where only they are allowed. Hikers tend to support wildlife and environmental issues but we're not stupid. We know Sheep are impacted by development, poisonous plants, drought and predation. They are not bothered by hikers. It was observed over a hundred years ago by George Wharton James that Sheep are not bothered by humans. They do well in years with more rain and worse during drought. They are bothered by helicopters, however. And they probably don't like to tranquilized, tagged and collared, either. So, if Sheep are so bothered by human interaction then the biologists need to, first and foremost, ban themselves.
Wendy February 06, 2011 at 07:13 PM
You took the words right out of my mouth Hal. Well said!
Inge February 07, 2011 at 12:17 AM
Couldn't have said it better myself Hal. Thanks!
Johnny U February 07, 2011 at 03:49 AM
Hal rules!
Joe Russo February 07, 2011 at 01:35 PM
Helicopters are loud, too loud. I agree. Quiet aircraft, with muffled engines would be alot better.
Darrell February 07, 2011 at 09:22 PM
Hal you have spoken for all of us who care about the Peninsular Big Horn, are sensitive to their environment, and respect nature. Something is bogus with the closure of these trails. Not sure it it's local residents ($$$) complaining about parking or about the few thoughtless hikers who leave a trail of empty water bottles and/or tissues behing. But closing the trails to the hikers is more beaurocratic b.s. PERIOD.

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