Bighorn Sheep Management Plan Public Comment Period Open

Big Horn Sheep

If you don’t know where you're going, you’ll end up someplace else. — Yogi Berra


The California bighorn sheep population on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge has declined by more than 50% since 2017. Refuge biologists counted just 68 sheep during aerial surveys conducted in 2019, a trend that puts the population at risk of extirpation.

To address the decline, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) is partnering with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife to develop a bighorn sheep management plan (plan) for the refuge. In compliance with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), the Service will also develop an environmental impact statement (EIS). The plan and EIS will focus on evaluating and managing factors influencing the bighorn sheep population including habitat and causes of mortality.

For additional information, refer to our Notice of Intent (NOI) and the following:
 
Bighorn Sheep Background

Bighorn Sheep on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Bighorn sheep, an iconic species native to Oregon and the Refuge, were extirpated in the State by 1912. The species was successfully reintroduced to Hart Mountain in 1954.

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Decline of Bighorn Sheep on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Decline of Bighorn Sheep on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge

Since 2017, the bighorn sheep herd on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge has declined to a precariously low population size.

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Bighorn Sheep Issues & Alternatives

Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and EIS

The Service is developing a management plan and environmental impact statement that will be used to restore the bighorn sheep herd on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge to a self-sustaining population.

Issues & Preliminary Alternatives

Bighorn Sheep - How to Help

NEPA Timeline and How You Can Help

Timely completion of the management plan and EIS are essentially to maintaining a bighorn sheep herd on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge.

How To Help


The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife (ODFW) has completed an assessment of the herd's health, and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has completed a peer review of the results; here are the assessment and peer review.

ODFW Assessment / USGS Assessment


How To Comment

The Service is requesting comments on the plan and EIS that can be used to develop a range of alternatives to restore the bighorn sheep population to a sustainable level. Comments will be accepted through June 8, 2020, by email at Sheldon-Hart@fws.gov, or by U.S. Mail addressed to: Project Leader, Sheldon-Hart Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex, P.O. Box 111, Lakeview, OR 97630. Please include “Hart Mountain Bighorn Sheep Plan” in the subject line of emails.