A new herd of bighorn sheep at the eastern edge of Yosemite National Park produced eight lambs this spring, sparking hope that the herd will thrive in new surroundings.
In March, 27 sheep were separated from a herd south of Bishop and released in Lee Vining Canyon near Mono Lake, but seven of them later died, trackers found.
Jeff Keay, a Yosemite wildlife biologist, believes that the oldest and youngest sheep were the ones that died within two weeks of the move.
Two rams spotted in the park last week were moving to higher slopes as the snow melted. According to Keay, that annual process indicates that the sheep are adjusting to their new range.
Bighorn sheep were declared extinct in Yosemite in 1914, although they once had roamed much of the eastern Sierra Nevada. The creation of a new herd is part of an effort by public agencies and wildlife groups to restore the animals to their native habitat.
Trying to learn more about the reproduction of the endangered black-footed ferret, researchers at the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie are studying the Siberian ferret.
There is evidence suggesting that the black-footed ferret evolved from the Siberian ferret, which may have crossed the land bridge between what are now Alaska and the Soviet Union several thousand years ago. In that case, the animals would be close relatives.
Unlike the black-footed ferret, thought to be the rarest mammal on earth, the Siberian ferret is not endangered, probably because the Siberian is not as specialized in its food and habitat requirements as the black-footed variety.
Under the direction of Bob Atherton, reproductive physiologist at the University of Wyoming, researchers plan to study the genetics and reproductive physiology of the Siberian ferrets in hopes that whatever knowledge is gained can be applied to black-footed ferret management.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service laboratory findings of bird deaths at Kesterson Reservoir north of Los Banos show that selenium toxicity persists.
Selenium, a natural element, is a component of agricultural waste water.
A hazing program at the reservoir has failed to keep coots and shore birds from using the wetland habitat throughout the year. It has also been difficult to keep ducks from nesting there in the spring.
In an attempt to find ways to prevent fish and wildlife deaths caused by agricultural drain water, the service will continue to monitor and analyze area ecosystems.
Briefly For the first time, Utah will offer limited area elk permits to nonresidents. Nonresidents may also buy general season elk permits, as before. Limited-area fees will be charged in addition to the nonresident big-game license fee of $120. Applications will be accepted by mail only from June 15-July 8. For further information, call (801) 533-9333. . . . The 1986 Pacific/Southwest Wilderness Digest, covering the back-country areas of California, Arizona and Nevada, is off the presses. Published with the cooperation of thee U.S. Forest Service, the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the State Park System, the digest will be available soon in backpacking and camping stores at a suggested retail price of $7.95. . . . Fishing guide Fred Rowe will discuss where and how to catch trout in Eastern Sierra streams and lakes at the San Gabriel Valley Fly Fishers' meeting starting at 7:30 p.m. June 25 at the Legg Lake-Whittier Narrows Visitors Center in El Monte. . . . Adult Americans remain committed to outdoor recreation and to the preservation of parks and natural areas, according to a recent survey sponsored by the National Geographic Society. The survey indicated strong public support for government action to preserve natural areas and a willingness to be taxed in the interests of such preservation. The survey also showed, however, that existing recreation areas should be maintained primarily through user fees, rather than tax money. . . . The North Pacific Fishery Management Council will convene June 25 at the Kodiak Community College in Kodiak, Alaska. . . . A discussion and demonstration of fishing methods used to catch mackinaw trout will be included in a two-hour Lake Tahoe fishing clinic starting at 2 p.m. June 22 at Cave Rock State Park in Nevada.