This site is dedicated to protecting the endangered Peninsular Desert Bighorn Sheep in the Anza-Borrego Springs State Park and surrounding areas as it and it’s environment is increasingly being threatened by severe drought and other effects of climate change. To that end, this site is dedicated to being a source for supportive and science based information.
The penisular population of desert bighorn sheep are native ungulates that live on the desert slopes of the Peninsular Ranges in San Diego, Riverside, and Imperial Counties. This population, which ranges from the San Jacinto Mountains south to the U.S.-Mexico border, is federally listed as endangered.
Desert bighorn sheep inhabit rocky slopes and cliffs, canyons, washes and alluvial fans. Like other bighorn sheep, they prefer rugged and open habitat, and use their climbing abilities, vigilance, and excellent vision to detect and escape from predators. They are generalist herbivores and eat a wide variety of desert plants, including cacti. In summer, the distribution of desert bighorn sheep is often associated with scarce water sources. Female bighorn sheep (ewes) live in groups with their offspring, and have smaller home ranges than males (rams). Males move between female groups, joining them during the fall breeding season. Most lambs are born in spring when desert plant productivity is highest.
Source: California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The peninsular bighorn sheep is at the top of the “want-to-see” list of many Anza-Borrego visitors. Listed as a federally endangered species in 1998, this species is found in several parts of Anza-Borrego and the Santa Rosa mountains to the north. They prefer dry and rocky low elevation areas, between 300 and 3500 feet in elevation. During the summer months they are most likely to be seen near sources of water.
Popular watering areas, such as those along Coyote Creek, are closed to vehicle traffic from June until October to allow the sheep access to water without disturbance. During the rest of the year, they may be spotted at various locations in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. An excellent place to look is along the Palm Canyon Trail, at the western edge of Borrego Springs.
For the past 50 years, a count of Anza-Borrego’s sheep has taken place over the fourth of July weekend, utilizing volunteers positioned at watering sites, to count the number of sheep coming to drink. It’s a tough assignment, hiking in to a remote location in mid-summer with temperatures that can reach 115 degrees. But the annual sheep count plays an important role in monitoring the health of Anza-Borrego’s bighorn population. Source: Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association (ABDNHA)
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Additional information to further the cause is welcome.
“There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm.” Theodore Roosevelt