March 4, 2012

What are Ewe going to do?

While Sherry took Andy to his Australian Rules Football practice, I headed up into the Cucamonga Wilderness with Paul and Linda and the Department of Fish and Game. We were participating in an annual count of Bighorn Sheep. We met with biologists on Saturday night for an orientation, and then early this morning, we hiked up to the 4800' level of these cliffs on the Middle Fork of Lytle Creek. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see any in our area, but that is still good data that wouldn't have been there if it weren't for us manning our post on that cliffside today. We saw tracks and scat, but no sheep. Here is a photo of a ewe from the 2009 survey. Here is a link to more info on these cool mountain dwellers.


Anonymous said...

San Gabriel Survey Participants,

Thanks to everyone that attended and helped us count desert bighorn sheep in the Middle Fork of Lytle Creek. All told we had a total of 24 sheep in 4 groups sighted by the observers at point #1 and 8 more sheep in two groups by the observers point #3. Seven of the bighorn sighted from point #3 were also sighted from point #1. We even had a couple of trail hikers join at observation point #4a. It turned out that they had tried to pre-register but were turned away because it was full. They had forgotten about the date of the survey and decided to go hiking, then chanced upon our group.

The observers on the Barrett-Cascade trail saw at least one sheep; the boy scouts in Cattle Canyon saw several sheep also, but I didn't get copies of the reports from the other trail leaders.

Jeff Villipique of DFG is compiling the survey results from all trails and expects the have a population estimate shortly. He attend the SCBS board meeting last Tuesday evening to give up a preliminary update. The number sighted from the helicopter was a bit lower this year. Some of the theorized causes are: higher than normal temperatures, lack of snow, new helicopter contractor (the old company retired), and few newer observers if the airship. Lower count totals and fewer observed marked sheep tend to lower the accuracy for the population estimate.

Digital photographs have become an important tool for survey work. They allow the observers to get accurate classifications with less disturbance to the wildlife.
If any of you have a photograph or two that you would be willing to share please email them. Anything that can be used to help classify the sheep that you saw would be of interest to the Fish and Game. If you are willing to share them with the survey participants (or not willing to share) please indicate when you send them and I will honor your request.

I forgot to get a quality group shot of our team - so I also attached a nice one from the Barrett-Cascade team.

Hope to see you all next year!