BOULDER CITY – Every day, tourists and residents enjoy coming over to Hemenway Park to see our favorite nomads: Desert Bighorn Sheep. Their majestic prance and curious nature are a tourist attraction all their own. The Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) monitors Bighorn Sheep populations to determine impacts of such things as habitat change and disease incidents. Sometime this month, NDOW biologists and the state wildlife veterinarian will be in the park to do some diagnostic testing of 10 to 12 females and remove identification collars from as many as seven of those animals. In order to safely do this, the bighorns will be tranquilized for a short amount of time.
Disease surveillance is the primary goal of the testing, especially as pneumonia has had a significant impact on the species in the River Mountains. “We will use a dart rifle with a safe tranquilizer that will cause the sheep to sleep for a while so that they are immobilized,” said Pat Cummings, Game Biologist for NDOW. “Our objective is to obtain blood samples, oral-phyrangeal nasal swab samples and through diagnostic testing, we’ll be getting some baseline information on the health status of the herd.”
Testing and work should take about a half hour per sheep, and they will be given an antidote that will allow them to wake up like nothing ever happened. NDOW staff will use the gazebos in Hemenway Park as a working area.
NDOW last did similar testing in May 2016, and affixed sheep with multi-color identification collars. “We were looking at the longevity of the female population and wanted to see if we could reliably discern which ewes had an attendant lamb,” Cummings said. “Now, years later, the collars no longer serve a purpose. We’ve also heard from residents presuming that the collars are too tight. We assure you that is not the case, but we would like to remove them so we can alleviate the concerns of residents.”
Staff will be driving marked vehicles and wearing NDOW uniforms. During the work, NDOW would like the environment to be unchanged, so it doesn’t scare off the sheep. They also ask that residents are cautious and keep their distance as staff completes the tasks.
If you have questions about the work, contact Doug Nielsen at firstname.lastname@example.org.