This week, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (Montana FWP) announced that 26 bighorn sheep have been successfully relocated from Wild Horse Island on Flathead Lake to the Tendoy Mountains in Montana. 19 ewes, five rams and two lambs were released on Feb. 19 in hopes that the animals will reestablish a herd where previous herds once roamed, the agency reports.
Each sheep was deemed healthy prior to relocation. Montana FWP biologists attached GPS collars in order to monitor daily movements, habitat use and overall survival. While bighorn sheep were once native to the Tendoys, herds in the region have experienced difficulties in maintaining herd numbers due to pneumonia-related die-offs due to proximity to domestic sheep and poor lamb recruitment.
Montana FWP plans to release about 60 bighorn sheep in the Tendoys between 2021 and 2022 to create “a self-sustaining bighorn population there.”
“We’re excited to once again have bighorn sheep in the Tendoys,” said Montana FWP’s Dillon-area wildlife biologist Jesse Newby. “We’re grateful to our many partners for their collaboration, financial support and volunteerism.”
Funding for the project was provided by the National Wild Sheep Foundation, the Montana Wild Sheep Foundation and the Bass Pro Shops and Cabela’s Outdoor Fund. Support was also provided by the Bureau of Land Management, the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest and numerous sportsmen and private landowners.