Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) are one of the most popular attractions in Boulder City. Frequently observed down on the lake side of town, particularly at Hemenway Park and surrounding neighborhoods, the sheep wander down to the park to graze, socialize with one another, and strike poses for lucky photographers fortunate enough to safely photograph them from a distance. An endangered species, the sheep were designated the official state animal of Nevada in 1973.
At one point, desert bighorn numbered in the tens of thousands, prior to European domestic settlement. Herds were severely impacted by hunting, loss of habitat, and diseases acquired from domestic livestock, like sheep. To that end, Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) conducts routine physical health checks on the animals. NDOW staff will be in Boulder City over the next few weeks to assess the health of our local bighorn population. They last did an extensive evaluation in May 2016.
The testing requires several steps:
- First, 10-12 female specimens will be selected for testing and given a tranquilizer to safely sedate them during the testing process.
- Biologists and the state wildlife veterinarian will obtain blood samples and oral-phyrangeal nasal swabs from the sheep for further testing.
- Identification collars will be removed from some of the ewes, as they are no longer needed for tracking purposes.
- At the conclusion of testing, the animals will be given an antidote to wake them up so they can return to the herd.
NDOW biologists will be wearing uniforms and driving marked vehicles. The work is expected to take a few days to complete so residents are asked to avoid the area while the process is taking place. Your cooperation will help ensure the health of the herd in the years to come!