The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, U.S. Forest Service and Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep on Saturday evening, March 5, and all day Sunday, March 6, are conducting a count of bighorn sheep. They are seeking volunteers to assist biologists.
No survey experience is necessary but volunteers must attend an orientation at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 5, at the Angeles National Forest Supervisor’s Office in Arcadia.
Volunteers will hike to designated observation sites in the San Gabriel Mountains early Sunday morning to count and record bighorn sheep. Representatives from CDFW, USFS or SCBS will lead the volunteer groups.
Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking 1 mile in rugged terrain, although most survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails and accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes, and, possibly, bush-whacking through chaparral.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes plus hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking, and more time making observations in cold and windy weather. Volunteers will need to start hiking early Sunday morning.
For volunteers who wish to camp, complimentary campsites will be available on a first-come, first-served basis at the Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek the nights of March 4 and March 5.
Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been done annually since 1979. The mountain range once held an estimated 740 sheep, which made the San Gabriel population the largest population of Desert Bighorn sheep in California. The bighorn population declined more than 80 percent through the 1980s but appears to be on the increase with recent estimates of about 400 animals.
Sign up online at www.sangabrielbighorn.org. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may call either 909-627-1613 or 909-584-9012 to receive a volunteer packet.