BIG GAME -- Ten bighorn sheep from from the National Bison Range in Western Montana were relocated to Hall Mountain near Sullivan Lake on Friday.
The 10 yearlings – eight ewes and two rams – were fitted with GPS collars before being released near Noisy Creek Campground.
State and tribal wildlife biologists hope the Montana bighorns will hook up with the existing Hall Mountain bighorns so the collar data will paint a better picture of where the bighorns roam and the habitat they prefer, said Dana Base, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife biologist.
The bighorns were released after being declared disease-free from blood samples sent to the Animal Disease Diagnostics Lab at Washington State University.
Historical writings indicate that bighorn sheep were native to the area but had been killed out until they were reintroduced to Hall Mountain in the early 1970s. The reintroduced sheep appear to have been dwindling in recent years.
"An new study is being implemented by the Kalispel Tribe to determine how the sheep in Pend Oreille County use the landscape and how much they co-mingle with the sheep in British Columbia," said Bart George, tribal wildlife biologist.
“What a wonderful turnaround from one year ago when (the state was) discussing taking our last remaining sheep,” said Tommy Petrie, president of the Pend Oreille Sportsmens Club.
Washington Fish and Wildlife also relocated 11 bighorns to the Tucannon River area last week to introduce new genetics and boost numbers.