Date of this Version
Environmental Studies Undergraduate Student Thesis, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 2022
Since the decimation of North America’s bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) populations due to human impacts, translocations have been the primary conservation strategy to repopulate the native habitat. Following the extirpation of the species in Nebraska, bighorns were reintroduced with the hope to establish a stable population, but nearly four decades of management has resulted in large-scale die-offs and unstable herds. Ongoing human impacts have created similar results across the country as reintroductions struggle to establish independent bighorn herds. A systematic literature review was conducted to analyze current human related effects, evaluate the effectiveness of management practices, and compare these findings to Nebraska Game and Park Commission’s bighorn sheep management plan. The findings of this research reveal significant effects from domestic livestock transferring diseases that contribute to large die-offs within bighorn herds, and a correlation between habitat encroachment and disease. Results also show effective vehicle disturbance mitigation methods with near or complete reduction in vehicle related mortality. Nebraska’s management plan proposes methods proven effective through research, but also presents opportunities to utilize other studied management practices in the future.