The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Society for Conservation of Bighorn Sheep (SCBS) are seeking volunteers to assist biologists on March 9 and 10 (Saturday evening and all day Sunday).
No survey experience is necessary to participate but volunteers must attend an orientation on Saturday, March 9, at 6:00 p.m. 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. A representative from CDFW, USFS or the Society will lead volunteer groups. Participants must be at least 16 years old and capable of hiking one mile in rugged terrain, although most survey routes are longer. In general, hikes will not be along trails. Accessing survey points will involve scrambling over boulders, climbing up steep slopes, and bush-whacking through chaparral.
Volunteers are encouraged to bring binoculars or spotting scopes in addition to hiking gear. Mountain weather can be unpredictable and participants should be prepared to spend several hours hiking and additional 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 to volunteers on a first-come, first-served basis at the Applewhite Campground in Lytle Creek on the night of March 9.
Surveys for bighorn sheep in the San Gabriel range have been conducted 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 by more than 80 percent during the 1980s but appears to be increasing now. Recent estimates have put the population at about 400 animals.
Please sign up online at http://www.sangabrielbighorn.org. If you do not have access to the Internet, you may call either (626) 574-5287 or (909) 584-9012 to receive a volunteer packet.
Logo courtesy California Department of Fish and Wildlife