Idaho Wild Sheep Conservation on the Lower Main Salmon River
ID WSF: $6K
WSF GIA: $25K
Midwest WSF: $9K
It is difficult to exaggerate the importance of the wild sheep of central Idaho to bighorn conservation. On the west side of the Frank Church River of No Return wilderness are the bighorn sheep of the remote and wild fastness of the lower Salmon River. Like those of the lower Panther Creek/main Salmon River group to the east of the Frank Church, they are part of the metapopulation of natives never extirpated during settlement times. Our goals on the lower main Salmon are the same as those for the lower Panther Creek/main Salmon River population: to clear Movi, thus allowing for bighorn sheep populations to increase.
The research is expected to result in less invasive techniques to clear Movi from wild sheep herds. There was a capture event in 2021 that included volunteers, in which jet boat access was used to capture bighorns. Additional capture work will be necessary to perform repeat Movi testing on previously positive animals, but the 2022 capture was precluded by colder than normal winter weather.
The lower main Salmon River is a priority location for bighorn sheep Movi clearance because of its connectivity to the bighorn sheep of north Hells Canyon. The Hells Canyon animals are currently Movi-free due to the success of previous test and remove work conducted there by the Idaho Department Fish and Game. The potential for reinfection by carriers from the lower Main Salmon cannot be ignored. The Hells Canyon population has good lamb recruitment and is growing since Movi clearance, and similar results are the goal for the lower main Salmon, and lower Panther Creek/main Salmon populations.