Biologists scramble to stop population decline of bighorn sheep in Colorado | VailDaily.com
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Biologists scramble to stop population decline of bighorn sheep in Colorado

Bruce Finley
The Denver Post

MOUNT EVANS – Bighorn sheep once just about posed for Barb Day when she crept across their high-country habitat with her camera.

Now, in the latest twist of an ecological saga, non-native mountain goats are displacing the sheep along the road from Echo Lake Lodge to Mount Evans’ 14,264-foot summit.

“You miss them,” said Day, who has run the lodge for 31 years.



She and others who sense trouble are correct.

The long-term survival of bighorn sheep – Colorado’s curly-horned state animal – is far from assured, with the sheep facing heavy threats here and across the West.



Colorado Division of Wildlife data show bighorn numbers statewide decreased by 10.2 percent between 2001 and 2009 – from 7,690 to 6,903.

Construction carving into their habitat and disease attacking their lungs – combined with vehicular traffic and livestock – are identified as stress factors.

Hunters kill an average of 157 bighorns a year.



For more of this Denver Post story: http://www.denverpost.com/ci_15148614


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