Draft Bighorn Sheep Management Plan & Environmental Impact Statement

Big Horn Sheep

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


Since 2017, the California bighorn sheep on Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge have declined by almost 70%. Refuge biologists counted just 48 sheep during aerial surveys conducted in 2020, a trend that puts the population at risk of extirpation.

To address the decline, Refuge staff, in coordination with Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife and USDA-Wildlife Services, developed a Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The EIS is focused on evaluating and managing factors influencing the bighorn sheep population including habitat and causes of mortality. In the EIS, we analyzed existing data and identified alternatives that represent a range of reasonable management approaches that reflect the urgency to implement short-term management actions in combination with mid- to long-term management and monitoring. The goal is to restore the herd to a healthy, sustainable population that is resilient to the dynamic conditions on the Refuge such as predation, drought, and changing habitat conditions.

In May 2020, we published the Notice of Intent to develop the EIS in the Federal Register and opened the initial 30-day public scoping period. A Scoping Report that summarized comments and major issues was completed.

Your Voice Matters!

How To Comment

Public comments on the Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge Draft Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement provide meaningful and important feedback. Comments will be accepted through June 14, 2021, and may be submitted 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. We will accept comments from the public for a period of 45 days following publication of the notice of availability in the Federal Register.

All comments received from individuals become part of the official public record. We will handle all requests for such comments in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act and the CEQ’s NEPA regulations in 40 CFR 1506.6(f). Our practice is to make comments, including names and home addresses of respondents, available for public review during regular business hours. Individual respondents may request that we withhold their home address from the record, which we will honor to the extent allowable by law. If you wish us to withhold your name and/or address, you must state this prominently at the beginning of your comments.

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge Draft Bighorn Sheep Management Plan and Environmental Impact Statement

 

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.

Learn More

Bighorn Sheep Issues & Alternatives

Bighorn Sheep Management Plan Preliminary Issues & Alternatives

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