COLLABORATIVE MANAGEMENT OF BIGHORN SHEEP IN EASTERN NEVADA
|Bryan Hamilton; firstname.lastname@example.org; Kimberly Reinhart|
Overlap between bighorn and domestic sheep populations often results in conflict. Stakeholders, like bighorn rams during rutting season, butt heads in court. Each party stands with evidence supporting their interest, rather than working together toward common goals. This scenario was realized in eastern Nevada a decade ago. A bighorn herd occupies the South Snake Range where domestic sheep graze in nearby allotments. Relationships between biologists, livestock operators, and land managers was caustic, each focused on their own interests. However, in 2015 all parties agreed to cooperate and focus on common goals through an Adaptive Management Strategy (AMS). The Southern Nevada Water Authority, National Park Service, Nevada Department of Wildlife, and Bureau of Land Management (the Parties) developed and implemented the AMS to promote healthy rangelands and minimize contact between domestic and bighorn sheep. As part of the AMS, the Parties created a bighorn and domestic sheep telemetry program to minimize contact. Individuals from each species were mapped with real time GPS data and results reviewed daily. The Parties used these data to create a domestic sheep grazing rotation to maximize temporal and spatial buffers with bighorn sheep, understand bighorn movement patterns, and manage lands for multiple use. Data analysis and field observations indicate that the AMS has been successful, with no contact between domestic and bighorn sheep. Disease testing has further substantiated effective separation. We recommend relentless collaboration, communication, and cooperation between game agencies, land managers, and domestic sheep operators to effectively manage bighorn populations near domestic sheep grazing allotments.