In 2015, Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep were released into Yosemite’s Cathedral Range, marking the species’ return to its ancestral home after a century-long absence. That milestone moment and other donor-supported efforts have helped these rare, remarkable mammals start on a path toward removal from the endangered species list.

The record-breaking 2016–2017 California winter created unusually harsh conditions in the bighorns’ alpine habitat. The Cathedral sheep population shrank but endured. Now, the herd needs to build resilience in order to ensure its long-term survival.

This 2019 grant supported critical work to monitor the size and health of bighorn herds in the “Northern Recovery Unit,” which includes the Cathedral Range and nearby areas. With your support, scientists used field surveys and GPS collars to count and track Yosemite-area wild sheep, and conducted public outreach to help share the bighorns’ story.

Your support helped advance efforts to establish a self-sustaining bighorn herd in the heart of Yosemite.

Completed in partnership with Yosemite National Park, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, and Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep Foundation.

Sarah Stock

Wildlife Biologist, Yosemite National Park

Project Notes

Monitoring Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep, in conjunction with public outreach and education, is enhancing understanding of this iconic alpine species.