Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep In Sequoia Kings Canyon - Wheeler Ridge

Wheeler Ridge herd movement data

 

Recent Events

  • 10/16/2020 11 females and 6 males were collared during fall capture. Some were captured from Hellcat Canyon where we didn’t have collared animals. This is a great help for biologists conducting surveys on this herd unit.
  • 06/06/2019 Many Wheeler Ridge sheep have started to move higher into the mountains for the summer making spotting the endangered ungulates more difficult.
  • 04/03/2019 An older ewe tagged as S143 was seen for the first time in over 2 years. Staff were unaware of her condition and location during that time span.
  • 02/13/2019 On January 30th a survey was conducted by staff in order to obtain a minimum count of the population for the year.
  • 10/20/2018 New collars were put out in this herd unit in order to continue with important data collection for lambing habitat.
  • 02/14/2018 Most sheep ranged from the front of Wheeler Crest to upper Pine Creek Canyon near the Mill.
  • 02/14/2017 On our annual winter survey we spotted 78 bighorn, many of which were on the east face of Wheeler Ridge.

Early winter snows requires migration in deep snow for bighorn
Early winter snow requires migration in deep snow for bighorn

A group of ewes at the metamorphic - granitic boundary common in Pine Creek
A group of ewes at the metamorphic - granitic boundary common in Pine Creek

 

The Wheeler Ridge herd was initially reestablished in 1982 with 15 ewes. Since then, the population has grown to, at times, over 100 individuals. The Wheeler herd was productive enough to provide source stock for a natural colonization of the Convict Creek herd to the north in 2009, as well as 11 ewes for translocation to start the Cathedral herd in 2016.

Since the low-elevation winter range is relatively easy to access, Wheeler is a good place to see bighorn from December to April. When there is less snow, Pine Creek Rd. can provide good viewing, while rougher dirt roads and hiking provide access to the east-side canyons (Wells, Mayfield, and Levergate) during heavier snowfall.