DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP RESEARCH
Recent Bighorn Sheep Restoration Efforts
Initial restoration of desert bighorn sheep relied heavily on out-of-state sources, but growing populations have produced a surplus of 450 sheep for in-state translocations.
Three major in-state translocations have occurred since 1971. The first two (Dec 2000 and Dec 2010) occurred on Elephant Mountain WMA when 45 bighorns were capture and transplanted to Black Gap WMA and later 46 to Bofecillos Mountains of Big Bend Ranch State Park.
Up until this point, the Bofecillos Mountains and surrounding ranges had been unoccupied by desert bighorn for over 50 yrs. The third, took place in December 2011. This effort marked the largest in-state capture and transplant in Texas bighorn restoration history. A total of 95 bighorns was captured from the Beach, Baylor and Sierra Diablo Mountains located north of Van Horn, Texas. All bighorns were transplanted to the Bofecillos Mountains of Big Bend Ranch State Park to augment the December 2010 release.
Currently, there is an estimated 1,300 bighorns occupying about half of their historic mountain ranges in the Trans-Pecos.
Research will be an important component to all future transplants whenever possible. Research topics investigated will include survival, recruitment, predation, movements, home ranges, and habitat use. Habitat models as well as alternatives to survey methods will be investigated and developed to facilitate the management and restoration of the desert bighorn sheep in Texas.