Citizen science project aims to conserve big game habitat and migration corridors in Colorado
For Immediate Release: March 16, 2020
Megan Mueller, Rocky Mountain Wild, 303-704-9760
Tehri Parker, Rocky Mountain Wild, 303-454-3338
Denver, CO – In August 2019, Governor Polis recognized that Colorado’s growing population is putting pressure on the natural habitats that big game need for survival, and issued an Executive Order aimed at conserving big game winter range and migration corridors. Now, volunteers are invited to contribute to bighorn sheep conservation by joining the Go Big! Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey. Volunteers will collect data needed to inform collaborative efforts to conserve bighorn sheep in Colorado.
“Conservation efforts have helped bighorn sheep recover from historic declines in Colorado”, said Megan Mueller, biologist with Rocky Mountain Wild. “However, bighorn sheep are still vulnerable to disease outbreaks that can result from contact with domestic sheep, and Colorado’s growing population is putting pressure on winter habitat and migration corridors that bighorn sheep populations need to survive and recover.”
“By joining Go Big!, volunteers can collect data to help fill gaps in knowledge about locations of winter habitat and migration corridors, and where bighorn sheep are likely to encounter domestic sheep and be at risk of contracting diseases,” said Megan Mueller.
“Governor Polis has launched an important collaborative effort to address the pressure that Colorado’s growing population is putting on habitat and migration corridors big game need to survive,” said Tehri Parker, Executive Director of Rocky Mountain Wild. “We are excited to support the Governor’s effort by giving wildlife enthusiasts and hunters an opportunity to collect data on bighorn sheep and contribute to their conservation.”
The Go Big! project area focuses on central Colorado, and volunteers who frequent public lands near Salida, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo are needed.
To learn more about Rocky Mountain Wild’s Go Big! Central Colorado Bighorn Sheep Survey and how to get involved, go to the project webpage and watch the Go Big! webinar. Concerned citizens can also sign a petition to ask the Bureau of Land Management to improve conservation plans for bighorn sheep habitat and migration corridors in Central Colorado.
The Governor’s Executive Order directs Colorado Parks and Wildlife to identify and fill gaps in data on the locations of and threats to seasonal habitat and migration corridors for big game. This information will inform efforts to conserve the habitat bighorn sheep and other big game species need to survive. Bighorn sheep populations also need to be protected from disease outbreaks. Bighorn sheep can contract respiratory diseases from domestic sheep. Unlike domestic sheep who are immune to the disease, bighorns suffer a 90% mortality rate within two months of exposure. To reduce the risk of disease, we need more information on where bighorn sheep and domestic sheep are likely to come into contact.