DWR News Release
The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources recently partnered with Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife and the Utah Wild Sheep Foundation to create a new nursery facility for desert bighorn sheep in Utah in an effort to help grow the species’ population in the state.
Bighorn sheep were released onto an initial nursery facility in Duchesne County in 2022. In the spring of 2023, Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife purchased a roughly 1,000-acre property in Boothe Valley near Promontory Point in Box Elder County and built a high fence around the property, with some additional funding from private donors. The property has ideal bighorn habitat and lower predator densities than the initial property, which led to the relocation of the nursery desert bighorn sheep herd.
“We are so grateful to our many partners who are passionate about wildlife and assist with these conservation efforts to ensure the continuation of these remarkable species in Utah,” DWR Once-In-A-Lifetime Coordinator Rusty Robinson said. “There have been some disease issues with our bighorn sheep populations in the past, and this new fenced area will provide a source herd of disease free bighorns that we can use to augment existing desert bighorn populations around the state. We can also use animals from this nursery herd to reintroduce native bighorns to currently unoccupied areas of Utah, as well. We are hopeful that this nursery herd will allow us to have long-term viability of desert bighorn sheep in Utah.”
On Dec. 22, desert bighorn sheep were relocated from the previous SkyRider Wilderness Ranch nursery herd facility in Duchesne County and were released onto the new property in Box Elder County.
“This will be remembered as one of the most significant events in preserving desert bighorn sheep in Utah,” Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife President Troy Justensen said. “This would not have been possible without the private donations from The Pedersen Family Trust and Gary Sorensen. We would also like to give a huge thanks to the Richman family for giving us the opportunity to share with them our vision for their family ranch.”
The DWR tentatively plans to release additional desert bighorn sheep at the new nursery herd property later this year to help bolster the population. As the herd grows, it will be used to augment other populations of desert bighorn sheep around the state.
There are currently around 3,000 desert bighorn sheep and 1,500 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in Utah.