- The Whiskey Mountain herd was once the largest wintering herd of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep in the US, but in the early ‘90s, a catastrophic pneumonia-related die-off occurred and reduced the population from approximately 2,000 individuals to ~630 individuals in 2005.
- Recent estimates indicate there are fewer than 500 individuals in the herd today, which is primarily due to low productivity and poor lamb survival.
- 50+ years of fire suppression in the Torrey Rim and Whiskey Mountain areas—areas identified as sheep habitat—has allowed for dense tree growth, which limits bighorn movement and has lower quality forage as compared to more open habitat.
Whiskey Mountain Bighorn Sheep Technical Committee (Wyoming Game and Fish Department, US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management)
Wyoming Governor’s Big Game License Coalition
Wyoming Game and Fish Trust
Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resources Trust
Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation
Wild Sheep Foundation
- Prescribed fire will be used to:
- Open migration routes that are currently colonized by coniferous trees.
- Enhance forage and loafing (resting) habitats.
- Create habitat that more closely resembles historical conditions that supported a productive sheep herd.
- An Invasive Species Management Plan will be in place prior to the burn to monitor and treat any non-native plant invasion post-burn.
- Estimated Completion Date: Implementation of the burn is planned for 2023 with monitoring through 2025