“bighorn responded to increased human activity by bedding. Bedding likely decreases the potential for both detection or interaction with humans and would be a more energetically conservative approach to avoidance that may be exhibited in part due the predictable nature of concentrated visitor use on established trails.” (p. 27)
“A study of the former population of bighorn sheep by Schoenecker and Krausman (2002) found 18% of visitors observed engaged in off trail use between 1994 and 1996. In contrast we documented roughly 1.5% off trail use from January 2015-May 2016 suggesting current human use of the PRWA may be largely confined to established trails” … “We speculate that the effects of urbanization around the PRWA may have also inadvertently restricted visitor use to established trails by limiting non designated access points around the base of the study area that were present during the former population.” (p. 28)
Not currently included with the paper is a detailed analysis of the visitation data, Brett indicated in an email that he is “still working with the Coronado National Forest to quantify all the visitor use data” – hopefully this data will be available at a later date!
Paul R. Krausman has worked on Bighorn Sheep research in the Santa Catalina Mountains for many years and in this book he brings together a wide variety of scientific and historic information about the sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. I think it is fair to say that the book is written for a professional/academic audience – but it is certainly accessible enough to be interesting to someone like me without a wildlife related degree. Two excerpts that might inspire you to read more:
“there is no evidence that predation, limited water, disease, or the presence of other ungulates contributed to the demise of the desert bighorn sheep in the Pusch Ridge Wilderness. However, the increasing human population from Tucson and surrounding areas encroaching on bighorn sheep habit, and related urbanization, have not been positive influences… there is strong evidence that urbanization and habitat alteration were major influences in their extinction” (pp. 141-142)
“when bighorn sheep are translocated back into the Santa Catalina Mountains, they will likely continue to need assistance from humans, including predator control, prescribed fires, periodic transplants to enhance genetic diversity and mitigate the loss of corridors to other mountain ranges, and restrictions on humans in their habitat” (p. 157)
Catalina Hwy closed, 2 feet of snow expected this week – Arizona Daily Star: The Catalina Highway was closed because of weather, there was rain in Tucson and by sunset a beautiful layer of clouds covered most of the Santa Catalina Mountains – there should be some great mountain weather over the next week!
Pregnant Ewe #39554 died during this period – a fall appears to be the reason for the death, disease testing has not been completed and the cause of the fall is unknown (although predation has been ruled out). Another bighorn found dead in Catalinas – Arizona Daily Star.
The collars on the Bighorn Sheep released in 2013 are running out of battery life and are expected to drop off in January of 2016 – it seems to me that the information from the collars will be missed, while there will still be quite a few sheep with collars the alerts from the collars have helped provide very interesting mortality information.
The yearly trail restrictions on off-trail travel in the Bighorn Sheep Management Area are now in place and will last until April 30 – this page has the details.
Kick off 2016 with an invigorating hike – Arizona Daily Star: I hope you have been able to get out and enjoy the great outdoors in 2016 – one option for getting out on the 1st was Arizona State Park’s “First Day Hikes” program that included a hike on the 50-Year Trail in Catalina State Park. Catalina State Park and Oracle State Park host a wide variety of events – well worth checking their calendars for interesting opportunities!
Box Camp Trail – 11/29: Hikers on the Box Camp Trail decide to continue down rather than hike back up – they loose the trail and one hiker continued on for cell phone reception, he was eventually brought out by helicopter. A search was set in motion for the other hiker who had been found and helped by other hikers.
Finger Rock Trail – 12/4: Hiker ran out of water and becomes exhausted – called for help but was able to continue down.
Injured hiker rescued from Ventana Canyon – Arizona Daily Star: A rescue after a hiker fell 30′ in Ventana Canyon. The SARA report on this incident provided some additional details: “A hiker scrambling around on a rocky pinnacle near the Window pulled loose a handhold and fell about 30 feet. His companion was unable to reach him, but called for help” – the injured hiker was short-hauled out.
Sledding proves to be dangerous on Mt. Lemmon – Christina Myers – KGUN9: Stay safe while sledding! The article says that “two kids had to be taken to the hospital on Thursday after hitting objects that were sticking out of the snow”.
The Bighorn Sheep Restoration Project Status update for 12/18 to 12/31 is now available (all updates are currently available here). Three new lambs have been observed in the Santa Catalina Mountains and there is video of one of them! This update has information on recent deaths including a report on the death of Ewe #643. When the death of Ewe #643 was first investigated there was not an obvious cause – later analysis indicates that an infection, probably originally caused by an external trauma, was the cause.
Bighorn status update for 6/23 to 7/7 (all updates are currently available here) – no mortalities and the 5 lambs reportedly continue to appear healthy. The maps in this report are fascinating – the sheep in these maps are in the very southwest corner of the range with movement in nearly all directions from there – they are certainly crossing a number of popular trails!