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Response of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep to fire on winter ranges

photo credit: Art Lawrence Project Objectives

The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are the rarest ungulate in North America and have been on the endangered species list since 2000. Part of the recovery program calls for an investigation into the potential for habitat enhancement, specifically using fire, to improve Sierra Nevada bighorn habitat. During July 2007 the Inyo Complex Fire burned 35,000 acres including an entire winter range for one bighorn sheep herd. I plan to investigate the response of VHF and GPS radiocollared bighorn sheep to this fire and use my results to make recommendations regarding future habitat enhancement. To complement my research into the effects of fire on bighorn sheep, I will investigate the effects of pinyon pine encroachment linked to fire suppression in the last 150 years on bighorn sheep. Together, my two research objectives will inform the recovery strategy for this endangered species.

Lead Researchers

Lacey Greene M.S./Wildlife Biology
Tom Stephenson, CDFG Lead Biologist

Collaborators:

Heather Johnson, PhD Student, UofMontana
Dr. Scott Mills, Professor, UofMontana

Funders:

California Department of Fish and Game

Project Duration: August 2007 - August 2009