State relocates bighorns to boost genetic diversity

The Associated Press /

LAKEVIEW — Fifty bighorn sheep have been relocated to Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge and other locations in Eastern Oregon as part of a regular program to boost genetic diversity.

District Biologist Craig Foster said Thursday the bighorns were trapped in the Deschutes, John Day and Owyhee river canyons, in the last week of November and released to join herds around Hart Mountain, Steens Mountain, Abert Rim and the Adele-Plush area.

He says bighorn sheep are trapped and relocated around Oregon nearly every year to be sure herds have enough food, and to increase genetic diversity.

The last native bighorn was killed in Oregon in 1941. Herds were re-established starting in 1954 with stock from British Columbia.

Oregon has about 3,500 of the California bighorn subspecies, and 800 Rocky Mountain bighorns.

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