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Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep

San Jose Mercury News, August 5, 2008

Feds finalize habitat for endangered bighorn sheep
The Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif.—The federal government is designating more than 400,000 acres of wildlands in the Eastern Sierra Nevada as protected habitat for an endangered mountain sheep.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's critical habitat designation announced Tuesday is a response to a 2005 lawsuit.

Environmentalists claimed in the suit the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep couldn't rebound from the threat of extinction because their habitat wasn't protected as required under the Endangered Species Act.

The new critical habitat area runs from Tuolumne to Tulare counties, where the wild bighorns forage for sagebrush and grasses growing near granite peaks.

In coming years, the Fish and Wildlife Service will analyze whether grazing domestic sheep or allowing offroad vehicles nearby could jeopardize the bighorns' recovery.

Copyright © 2008 - San Jose Mercury News

Photo © Paul S. Hamilton