California bighorn sheep in the South Okanagan have undergone major declines in historic times, associated with unregulated overhunting, disease-related decline (associated with domestic sheep brought north from the U.S. to graze bighorn ranges), and a major decline in 1999/2000, the result of an all-age pneumonia-related die-off. California bighorn sheep are blue-listed (vulnerable) due to numerous and uncertain threats from disease, forest succession, access development, land alienation, housing development, and grazing competition, as well as the high vulnerability and sensitivity of bighorn sheep to human disturbance from recreation, livestock grazing, and resource extraction. Increases in human population have resulted in native grasslands being converted to agricultural and urban development. Fire suppression policies have altered the natural fire frequency of wildfire in grasslands, and overgrazing and degradation of native ecosystems caused by noxious weed invasion are significant habitat issues. The extent and impact of predation on South Okanagan bighorn sheep is unknown, but could be significant. Collisions between bighorn sheep and vehicles were the largest single source of mortality of adult females, and human disturbance may cause indirect mortality through increased stress and lower foraging efficiency and by altering normal range-use patterns.
1. Reestablish a viable metapopulation of free-roaming California bighorn sheep on suitable habitats within their original range in the South Okanagan by 2010.
2. Prevent contact between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep.
3. Allow the South Okanagan metapopulation to increase to a level that allows for long-term sustainable human use.
4. Encourage research on the South Okanagan metapopulation, particularly studies that focus on conservation and conservation biology.
5. Continue to develop cooperative management and fund-raising programs for establishing and maintaining healthy subpopulations.
Harper, W.L., HM. Schwantje, T.J. Ethier, I. Hatter. 2002. Recovery Plan for California Bighorn Sheep in the South Okanagan Valley British Columbia. Ministry of Water, Lands and Air Protection. BC Recovery Strategy (Species at Risk)
Topic: Recovery Planning
Keywords: bc, species status, habitat fragmentation
Scientific Name: Ovis canadensis
English Name: Bighorn Sheep
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