Bighorn Sheep Transferred

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Any South Dakotans feeling sheepish about the state’s bighorn sheep numbers should now rejoice. Thirty bighorn sheep were recently transferred to South Dakota from the Wheeler Peak area of New Mexico. The sheep were obtained through the cooperation of the New Mexico Game and Fish Department, the Badlands National Park and the South Dakota Dept. of Game, Fish and Parks.

"Twenty three bighorn sheep have been transferred to Badlands National Park, and seven bighorn ewes were released near Elk Mountain in the Southern Black Hills, said Game, Fish and Parks Big Game Biologist John Kanta of Rapid City. The Elk Mountain herd was started in 2002 with 20 bighorn sheep, and this transplant has increased that herd number to 47. The badlands herd has been estimated at 50 to 60 sheep. With the new transplant, this herd should be somewhere near 70 to 80 animals in size.

"It is necessary to introduce two to three different or new blood lines from different founder groups to insure long term herd viability," Kanta noted. "This transplant is part of a long term management plan developed for bighorn sheep, which includes the establishment of an eventual third herd in the Black Hills."