Bighorn Sheep Are Helicoptering Their Way Back From the Brink
California Fish and Wildlife is helping endangered bighorn sheep reclaim their old range—by lifting them over the humans and mountain lions.
LONE PINE, CaliforniaIn a snow-flecked campground at 10,000 feet, a petite biologist named Alex Few is giving last-minute instructions to her crew. The sound of the helicopter reaches them before they see it coming in low over the lodgepole pines, bright red against the gray crags of the Sierra Nevada.
“Who are the people drawing blood?” says Few. “Who are the data collectors? Remember: Keep your knees under the sheep’s head.”
Three orange slings dangle from the helicopter on a single line. Each sling contains a Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep.
Three sets of wildlife workers scramble to meet the chopper. A minute later they hurry back through the dust kicked up by the rotors. Each group carries a sheep on a stretcher, its