Residents are being asked to weigh in on the fate of the endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep as officials consider a new monitoring program that includes helicopters and radio tracking devices.
The National Park Service, in cooperation with the California Department of Fish and Game, the U.S. Geological Survey and the U.S. Forest Service-Inyo National Forest, is seeking public comments about a proposal to conduct population monitoring, research and translocation of federally endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep within Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.
According to the National Park Service, “results from these projects would directly aid in planning and implementing actions identified as necessary to enable the recovery of this endangered species.”
Proposed project activities include helicopter-supported capture of bighorn sheep with net guns in wilderness areas of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and in the Inyo National Forest.
The NPS proposes monitoring bighorn sheep movements remotely via VHF radio-transmitters and GPS collars.
“Research would also collect complementary data on meadow habitat characteristics and the responses of bighorn sheep to wilderness recreation (pack stock presence, grazing and visitor activities),” the NPS said.
An environmental assessment has been prepared to evaluate four alternatives for the project – one includes taking no action – and the associated environmental impacts for implementing the proposed project.
“The NPS is obligated to protect the bighorn sheep and critical habitat, as well as implement appropriate components of the recovery plan for the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep,” a press release from the NPS states. “This project meets the goals of the recovery plan and will provide the park with additional information in development of a new Wilderness Stewardship Plan and Environmental Impact Statement for Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks.”
Public comments may be submitted via the Internet, at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/seki . Written comments may be sent to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National parks, 47050 Generals Highway, Three Rivers, CA 93271. No anonymous comments will be accepted and the NPS says names and other personal information may be made public with the comments.