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Bighorn Sheep of the Okanogan

On Friday, April 6th, WA Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist, Jeff Heinlen, brought to Highland Wonders the ecology, history, and management associated with the Bighorn Sheep of Okanogan County.

The presentation covered interesting adaptations that help California Bighorn Sheep survive, breeding behaviors and timing, and what types of habitat they need. Jeff showed us how the age of Bighorn Sheep can be estimated by counting the rings on their horns or examining their teeth. The distribution of Rocky Mountain vs. California Bighorn Sheep was discussed, and local historic accounts were shared. Jeff explained the origin of several Okanogan Bighorn Sheep herds, and gave updates on how they are doing. He also explained how a variety of health issues can impact a herd, such as psoroptic mange and pneumonia. It was especially interesting to hear about the management challenges that have occurred, and what is being done to address these challenges and help support the herds.

Listen to the presentation: Part 1 / Part 2

To view a video of Jeff Heinlen giving a similar presentation with the Methow Conservancy, click here.

Thank you, Jeff, for providing such an informative and interesting presentation on Bighorn Sheep!

Jeff began working for the WDFW in 2003 after working for several years as a US Forest Service biologist in the Okanogan. He currently works on a variety of field projects throughout the Okanogan, focusing on Canada Lynx, California Bighorn Sheep, Sharp-tailed grouse, and Western Gray Squirrels. He enjoys sharing information about all wildlife to foster a deeper appreciation for them.

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