Las Vegas Sun

January 19, 2018

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State relocates sheep from River Mountains


Courtesy Department of Wildlife

Nevada Department of Wildlife biologists carry a bighorn sheep from the landing zone to the processing area for examination by the agency’s veterinarian prior to its relocation to a Lincoln County mountain range.

Sheep relocation

Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Craig Stevenson and Clint Bentley, a former member of Nevada's wildlife commission, prepare a desert bighorn sheep for processing during a recent capture and transplant operation in the River Mountains east of Henderson. Launch slideshow »

The Nevada Department of Wildlife successfully captured 50 desert bighorn sheep from Henderson's River Mountains on Oct. 31 for release in Lincoln County mountain ranges.

Department officials called the transfers, which are done annually to help fledgling herds across the state, a success beyond their expectations.

After capturing sheep in the River Mountains, which host the herds that graze in Boulder City's Hemenway Park, the department performed capture and release projects in three more Clark County mountain ranges from Nov. 1 through 4.

A total of 107 sheep were relocated to the Delamar and the Meadow Valley mountain ranges.

"I don't think it could have gone any better," said Steven Kimble, a department supervising biologist for the game division. "There are a lot of things that go into this effort. We need to have the right weather and there are a ton of logistics in coordinating volunteers, but I think everything went perfect this year."

A secondary goal for the River Mountain transfer was to thin the number of sheep that graze in the Hemenway Park and grassy areas along U.S. 93, Kimble said.

The department has safety concerns about the sheep grazing in the roads and the surrounding neighborhoods.

"The water and shade in Hemenway Park has been a big reason why those herds have thrived," Kimble said. "We will see less them in the upcoming months because it has cooled off and they'll be more comfortable in the mountains. By next summer we'll hopefully have less of them out in the park."

Boulder City resident Joyce Meagher, who lives at the base of the River Mountains, said she has noticed a steady increase in sheep population since moving near the park in 2005.

Meagher recognizes the need for the transfers but said her family enjoys watching the sheep graze through a nearby vacant lot.

"It's not a nuisance at all, in fact we enjoy it," she said. "It's very unique to live here. I don't think anyone has a problem with the sheep."

About 30 volunteers, most of whom were from local sportsmen groups, assisted throughout the four-day effort.

After the sheep were captured in the mountains with net-guns in the mountains, a department veterinarian monitored the animal's health.

The 30 ewes, 13 rams and seven lambs were then blindfolded and transported via helicopter.

The department has been performing sheep transfers in Nevada since 1968 and attributes the efforts to helping the species nearly double in population since 1990 to nearly 6,500 sheep in 2007.

Kimble said that more desert bighorn sheep hunting tags — one of the rarest to draw in Nevada — could be allotted as herd populations increase.

Sean Ammerman can be reached at 990-2661 or [email protected].

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