‘We’ve got the habitat and they’ve got the surplus sheep’ — Bighorns transplanted in Wyoming

POWELL, Wyo. — State game managers transplanted about two dozen bighorn sheep from the Lovell area in northern Wyoming to near Rawlins in the south-central part of the state.

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department captured the sheep in the Devil’s Canyon area and transplanted them last month to the Ferris-Seminoe area.

“Right now, we’ve got the habitat and they’ve got the surplus sheep; we might as well put the two together,” explained Greg Hiatt, the Game and Fish’s Sinclair-based wildlife biologist, who oversees the Ferris-Seminoe herd.

The Game and Fish Department wants to keep the Devil’s Canyon herd between 140 and 210 animals.

But Leslie Schreiber, a Greybull-based wildlife biologist, said she counted 253 sheep last July and there could be more.

“We want to address these sheep before they grow even larger,” Schreiber told the Powell Tribune.

If the herd continues to grow, it could spread out and potentially mix with either domestic sheep in the area or another wild herd in Shell Canyon to the south — potentially exposing the Devil’s Canyon herd to new diseases.

Part of what makes the Devil’s Canyon sheep a good fit for transplanting to other parts of the state is that “they are free of the bacteria that worry us,” Scheiber said.

Added Game and Fish Wildlife Disease Supervisor Hank Edwards, “This herd is very healthy; it’s a good, healthy herd.”

While there are researchers studying possible birth control methods for bighorn sheep, Schreiber said that right now, the department’s two major tools for driving down the size of a herd are hunting and transplants like the one carried out last month.

Prior to the arrival of the transplants from the Devil’s Canyon herd, around 130-150 bighorn sheep were believed to be living in the Ferris-Seminoe area, with an objective of 300.

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