Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Water For Wild Sheep

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) released a new video on the construction of the largest water guzzler in Nevada to combat past drought-related die-offs of desert bighorn sheep.

Nevada is the driest state in the union, and Clark County, which includes Las Vegas within its boundaries, is the driest. It is also home to the Muddy Mountains and one of the southwest's largest desert bighorn sheep populations.

“Guzzlers are engineered devices designed to capture and hold water, dispensing it into drinking tanks available to desert bighorn sheep and other animals,” explained Kevin Hurley, WSF’s VP of Conservation. “Extreme drought conditions in recent years significantly stressed the Muddy Mountain herds. It was time to go big.”

Working closely with WSF Affiliate the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, the Wild Sheep Foundation matched a $30,000 grant from Spanish gunmaker Bergara to help fund a special guzzler project in the Muddy Mountains. The project also received funding from the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW), WSF Affiliates, Nevada Bighorn Unlimited Fallon, and Reno and Meadow Valley Wildlife Unlimited.

"Working with WSF and NDOW on the Muddy 7 project has been an incredible privilege”, said Dakota Russell, Vice President of Bergara Sales. “At Bergara, we were determined to go beyond just providing funding through the Bergara Foundation; we wanted to be actively involved with boots on the ground. While many of the projects' volunteers may never hold a sheep tag, their dedication to supporting the sheep and other wildlife was unwavering, as if they spent every fall hunting these mountains. This project was truly a team effort, and it required the commitment and hard work of everyone involved to bring it to fruition."

Periods of drought usually align with the late stages of lamb gestation and can impact the survival of newborn desert sheep lambs. Guzzlers play a vital role in bridging critical water deficits during such times.

The remote location required helicopter transport of all tools, equipment, materials, and manpower to complete the structure. The guzzler complex consists of a 100x150-foot water catch apron that feeds eight 2,300-gallon tanks and continuously fills two drinkers that sheep and other wildlife can access.

“Technology has enhanced the monitoring process using satellite-linked technology,” Hurley added. "We can check this guzzler's water levels remotely, which saves a lot of time and lets wild sheep conservationists know when situations are critical. Knowing the average daily water intake of desert bighorns, biologists can calculate how long water in the tanks will last by monitoring herd visitation, assisted by remote game cameras.”

Nevada's desert sheep population (Nevada’s state animal) is around 7,000, and water development projects such as this new guzzler are helping secure their future.

Watch Water for Wild Sheep at this link.

The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by sportsmen and other wild sheep conservationists. WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep, having raised and expended more than $145 million, positively impacting these species through population and habitat enhancements, research and education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”®. In North America, these and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations from historic lows in the 1950s-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today. WSF has a membership of more than 11,000 worldwide.