Desert bighorn sheep in Zion National Park have made a phenomenal comeback following a 1973 reintroduction effort by the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (UDWR). Since 2008, after decades of stunted herd growth, desert bighorn sheep are flourishing. And, because of this recovery success, the state is taking careful action to keep the Zion herd healthy and away from disease, which has impacted herds across the West.
To do this, Zion National Park is working with UDWR on a desert bighorn sheep transplant plan that would take animals from inside the park and transport them to other areas of the state. Doing this would boost bighorn population across Utah and mitigate the risk of disease transmission within the Zion herd.
According to St. George News, a completed environmental assessment outlines the proposed relocation strategy and the park’s “preferred alternative involves the use of helicopters (including in wilderness) to capture sheep for disease testing, GPS collaring, and periodic transplanting of a proportion of Zion’s sheep herd to areas outside the park with the intention of sustainably managing the herd size, habitat quality, and potential disease issues.”
The public can review and comment on the proposal until Sept. 25, 2017 by clicking here.