BIGHORN SHEEP AND MOOSE
MONITORING UNGULATE POPULATIONS OF CONCERN
Bighorn sheep and moose populations in the park are currently declining or are at very low levels.
In the upcoming year, GTNPF will continue to support the park’s multi-year efforts to learn more about these populations of concern. Several stressors could be important contributing factors to demographic trends, including climate, effects of human recreation on habitat use, predation, disease, parasites, and/or competition with non-native species. Park biologists are currently using scat samples collected on the landscape to estimate population sizes of sheep and moose through new technologies in DNA extraction, which allow the assignment of each scat sample to an individual animal.
The number of individuals sampled can then be used to statistically estimate population size and trends. In other recent studies, this technique has proven to be an effective tool for estimating numbers, density, and pregnancy rates in black-tailed deer, bighorn sheep, moose, and wolves.