Montana Public Radio

FWP Seeks Comments On Bighorn Sheep Reintroduction

Jul 9, 2020
Originally published on July 8, 2020 6:39 pm

The State of Montana is seeking public comment on the environmental effects of reintroducing bighorn sheep, a native species, into the Little Belt Mountains in central Montana.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks (FWP) opened its comment period earlier this month on July 3.

Wildlife biologist Jay Kolbe says feedback reestablishing the bighorn sheep in its historic range has been positive so far.

“If you have a sheep herd in a fairly wild landscape, we don’t expect a lot of direct conflict," Kolbe said.

Kolbe says the Little Belt Mountains were a natural habitat for bighorn sheep before the turn of the 20th century. That’s around the time that overhunting and disease contributed to the animal’s decline in the West.

According to the environmental assessment, the state began reintroduction attempts in the 1940s.

FWP now hopes to grow the tiny bighorn sheep population wandering the Little Belt Mountains. Kolbe says to do that, it’ll relocate 50 sheep from a healthy herd in northeast Montana’s Fergus County with hopes the population in the mountain range will gradually increase.

He says FWP may begin reintroduction as soon as December.
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