DWR seeks public input on bighorn sheep unit management plans

SALT LAKE CITY — The statewide management plan for bighorn sheep in Utah was approved in November 2018, and now the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is seeking the public’s feedback on the plans for each of the specific regions in Utah that have bighorn sheep populations.

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The statewide management plan for bighorn sheep in Utah was approved in November 2018, and now the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is seeking the public’s feedback on the plans for each of the specific regions in Utah that have bighorn sheep populations.

There are 18 unit management plans that will be presented and open for public feedback: 11 for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and seven for desert bighorn sheep. The combined population objective for these 18 units is a total of 8,875 bighorn sheep. Currently, there are about 4,170 bighorn sheep in Utah, and the specific unit management plans include proposals for how to increase the population in each area in a sustainable way.

“There has been some struggle with our bighorn sheep populations recently because of respiratory disease,” Jace Taylor, the bighorn sheep and mountain goat biologist for DWR, said. “Part of our objective is to expand bighorn sheep populations where possible and to maintain the overall population in a sustainable and healthy way across Utah to provide quality opportunities for wildlife viewing and hunting.”

The number of sheep being proposed for each unit will vary, due to the available habitat, water supply and necessary space needed to separate the animals if they get sick. Some habitat projects may also be proposed, which would help provide additional suitable habitat for bighorn populations.

One of the specific units included in the proposed unit management plans is Antelope Island. The bighorn sheep population on the island experienced a disease outbreak in November 2018, and the entire population there was removed. Part of the proposed management plan for this specific area includes reintroducing a healthy population of bighorn sheep to the island.

DWR biologists hope to release about 35 wild bighorn sheep on the island in January 2020, and will closely monitor the population for disease. They hope to eventually grow a healthy population of 125 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep on the island.

Here are the proposed totals for bighorn sheep populations on all 18 units:

 Unit Name Current Bighorn Sheep Population Proposed Bighorn Sheep Population
Antelope Island 0 125
Book Cliffs, South 230 450
Box Elder, Newfoundland Mountain 310 350
Box Elder, Pilot Mountain 60 125
Central Mountains, Nebo 50 125
Fillmore, Oak Creek 130 300
Henry Mountains 150 200
Kaiparowits 950 1,350
La Sal, Potash/South Cisco 220 300
Nine Mile 440 1,000
Oquirrh-Stansbury, West 70 500
Pine Valley 170 675
San Juan 320 750
San Rafael 540 1,200
Uinta Mountains 160 450
Wasatch Mountains, Avintaquin 20 350
Wasatch Mountains, West 80 250
Zion 250 375

See all of the proposed unit management plans on the DWR website.

Give feedback

The DWR is asking for the public’s feedback on the recommendations. You can share your thoughts and feedback at your Regional Advisory Council meeting or by emailing the RAC member over your area. The contact information for the RAC members is available on the DWR website.

The information for the meetings is listed below:

  • Central Utah: Sept. 3 at 6:30 p.m. at the DWR Central Region Office at 1115 N. Main St., Springville
  • Northern Utah: Sept. 4 at 6 p.m. at the Brigham City Community Center at 24 N. 300 West, Brigham City
  • Southern Utah: Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. at the Hurricane Community Center at 63 S. 100 West, Hurricane
  • Southeastern Utah: Sept. 11 at 6:30 p.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum at 1765 E. Main St., Green River
  • Northeastern Utah: Sept. 12 at 6:30 p.m. at the DWR Northeastern Region Office at 318 North Vernal Ave., Vernal
  • Wildlife Board Meeting: Oct. 3 at 9 a.m. at the Utah Department of Natural Resources building at 1594 W. North Temple, Salt Lake City
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