Desert Bighorn sheep get a nursery in Utah

DUCHESNE – The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) opens its first tree nursery for the desert bighorn sheep.

First bighorn sheep kindergarten

DWR partners with Young Living, a Utah-based essential oils company. Young Living donates 1,800 acres of private land in Duchesne County to kindergarten. The 1,800 acres at the SkyRider Wilderness Ranch will be a safe home for many bighorns.

Bighorn Sheep Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Antelope Island has had a rearing flock of Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep for several years. However, this will be the first designated desert bighorn growing area in Utah.

SkyRider Ranch Bighorn Sheep Nursery Photo: Young Living

In a statement, Riley Peck, DWR coordinator for unique species, said “this fenced area will provide a place for our herds to grow safely”.

“Whenever we need to add or create new populations in the state, we will have our own internal bighorn sheep population and be able to support ourselves in maintaining healthy herds.” Peck added.

Exciting news! @UtahDWR partnered with @youngliving to open the first desert bighorn sheep nursery in Utah to help increase the population of the species in the state

: @SkyriderRanch

– Faith Heaton Jolley (@FaithHJolley) November 30, 2021

Why a kindergarten is needed

Several of Utah’s bighorn sheep populations have been decimated by disease. An animal condition report released by DWR in 2018 also shows that domestic sheep grazing and human activity are dwindling populations of some groups of bighorn sheep across the state.

SkyRider Ranch Photo: Young Living

Peck said the ranch will allow animals to be relocated to other parts of Utah to replenish declining populations or to create entirely new herds.

Bighorn Lamb Photo: Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

The original 150 desert bighorn sheep came from Nevada. Peck thanked both Silver State and Young Living for their generosity.

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