|A herd of bighorn sheep transported to Ventura County, California more than a decade ago and thought to be dead, have reappeared in Los Padres National Forest.
Between 1985 and 1987, 37 Nelson bighorn sheep were transported from the San Gabriel Mountains in Los Angeles County. The relocation, one of many around the state at the time, was an effort to rebuild bighorn sheep numbers in places where they once thrived.
Biologists believed the herd was dying several years ago after repeated helicopter and ground surveys over 40 square miles turned up few bighorn. But in the last three months, hikers and a deer hunter reported seeing as many as 19 Nelson bighorn, including rams, ewes and lambs, near Sespe Hot Springs.
Adult bear survival and production in 1999 was good; a wet summer provided bears with good forage and the number of bears taken by hunters and involved in nuisance situations was similar to previous years.
That factor, and a desire by Division biologists to wait and learn what black bear management goals will be outlined in a management plan that should be completed this summer, were factors in the Division not proposing many bear hunting and pursuit rule changes this year.
The biggest change being proposed is to split the Wasatch Mountains management unit in central Utah into two subunits. Doing so would better distribute hunters through a unit where a high number of sheep and other livestock are killed by bears each year.
Most hunters only hunt the western portion of the unit, and hunters are also needed in the eastern portion to take bears that might kill livestock there next year.
The Division is proposing that 218 hunting permits be available in 2000, a reduction of two from the 220 permits available in 1999.
The release was a joint project involving the Division of Wildlife Resources, the National Wild Turkey Federation and North Summit High School.
The Division will work closely with the high school students over the next few years to help them build feeders, track movements of the flock, and help monitor poaching situations. The National Wild Turkey Federation's "Adopt a Flock" program was the impetus for getting the turkeys to Utah, and the Division provided support and scientific data to get the students started on their project.
Lou Cornicelli, wildlife manager for the Division's Northern Region, said the area where the turkeys were released is perfect wild turkey habitat and that the population should do well there. The Jan. 27 release is the first of two scheduled releases that will hopefully create hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities in the area within the next five to10 years.
The next release is scheduled for February, in the Huff Creek Drainage.
Other areas in northern Utah where turkeys are found include the East Canyon area, the Middle Fork Wildlife Management Area, and the Henefer/ Echo WMA.
Copyright © 2000 J & D Outdoor Communications. All rights reserved.