For more than 20 years, Yosemite Conservancy has provided funds to Yosemite National Park to protect Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, one of the rarest large mammals in North America. Thanks to Conservancy support, wildlife managers have re-introduced this endangered species back into their Yosemite habitat and continue to monitor the population expansion.
Herds Getting Bigger
The bighorn population has increased to more than 400 individuals since they were granted federally endangered status in 1999, but they continue to face many challenges. For example, the Yosemite herd, which inhabits the eastern portions of Yosemite National Park, continues to tackle problems associated with the spread of disease from domestic sheep in neighboring herds.
GPS Collaring and Online Tracking
Yosemite Conservancy has helped protect bighorn sheep by funding GPS collars to track their movements. The Conservancy also funded the creation and management of website applications that allow for the online tracking of individual sheep. By closely following sheep travels, as well as lambing sites, wildlife managers have been able to quickly intervene to protect the sheep from potential threats, such as when they wander too close to domestic herds, putting them at risk for exposure to deadly diseases. Close tracking has allowed scientists to easily collect samples in areas where the sheep have spent time; these samples were used to run nutritional and genetic tests to learn more about bighorn sheep behavior in Yosemite.