Article in Jackson Hole Magazine

Check out an article about the Teton bighorn sheep herd, appearing in this winter's edition of the Jackson Hole Magazine.

Click here for a preview of the article.

Bighorn sheep winter closures are in effect

Starting on December 1st, crucial bighorn sheep winter ranges in Grand Teton National Park were closed to human entry in order to provide secure winter habitat for bighorn sheep. These areas are closed until April 1st. Areas encompass Prospector's Mountain and Mt. Hunt, including Peaks 10,988, 10,905, and 10,495, south-facing slopes on Mt. Hunt above 8,580 ft. and slopes of Static Peak above 10,890 ft. For maps of the closures, please visit:

Photo: Mark Gocke

Assignment Earth features Teton Sheep Project

A new video featuring the project has been featured on Assignment Earth, and will be released to PBS stations and Yahoo! News. You can watch the video here:

Thanks to local reporter Rebecca Huntington and videographer Melinda Binks for producing this, and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort for their cooperation with filming.

Above: Field technician, Walter Scherer, listens for collared sheep using radio-telemetry from the top of the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort

Sheep Project Focus of Jackson Hole News & Guide Article

The Jackson Hole News & Guide published an article this week covering the backcountry recreation component of the Teton Bighorn Sheep Project. Read it here:

Winter Backcountry Recreation Component of Bighorn Sheep Study Continues

There is ample evidence that winter is the most difficult time of year for ungulates to survive. Deep snow, low forage availability, and increased caloric expenditure to maintain body heat, as well as energy demands of gestation in females, all contribute to the real risk of starvation. Bighorn sheep in the Teton Range have lost their historical migratory routes into the Jackson Hole and Teton valleys due to human development, and now winter on a limited number of wind-swept slopes and ridges at high elevation. Wildlife biologists are concerned that this small and genetically isolated bighorn sheep herd could experience significant mortality during winter. Therefore, we want to gain the most information possible about how these bighorn sheep use winter habitat in the Tetons, and which areas are most important to their survival.

We are continuing to collect backcountry recreation data in winter 2010, along with location data from GPS-collared bighorn sheep. In order to collect the most accurate and up-to-date data possible on backcountry recreation use patterns, we are randomly contacting backcountry users at 11 trailheads throughout the Teton Range and asking them to carry handheld GPS tracking units for the day. These GPS units provide detailed route information, which will be coupled with trail counter data to map patterns and intensity of use of various recreation routes.

This objective approach to measuring backcountry recreation will enable us to directly compare backcountry recreation with bighorn sheep movements. Since we will also have detailed location information of bighorn sheep movements during winters 2009 and 2010, we will be able to determine if and how bighorn sheep respond to various levels of human use in the backcountry. We appreciate the continued cooperation from local backcountry users in collecting this valuable information, and recognizing the value in developing effective ways to share the backcountry with bighorn sheep. Please contact the project lead, Aly Courtemanch ( with any questions.

Photos: Doug Brimeyer, Aly Courtemanch

The Teton Bighorn Sheep Project is now on Facebook!

Check out the new Teton Bighorn Sheep Project page on Facebook and become a fan to receive the latest photos and updates about the project. Also, chat with other fans!

Studying winter backcountry recreation patterns

During winter 2009, we are quantifying backcountry
recreation patterns in the Tetons in order to determine if GPS-collared bighorn sheep are avoiding winter travel routes, even if those routes fall within bighorn sheep habitat.

We are implementing a relatively new technique to measure backcountry recreation: recruiting backcountry users to carry handheld GPS tracking units with them while they are travelling in the backcountry. These GPS units provide us with detailed tracks of human backcountry use that we can easily incorporate into a model as a variable predicting bighorn sheep habitat use.

In early March 2009, we successfully captured and GPS-collared an additional 8 bighorn sheep ewes in the Teton Range. Six of the ewes were collared between Jensen Canyon and Prospectors Mountain, in the southern portion of the herd where the majority of winter recreation takes place.
This portion of the study will provide us with current information regarding backcountry recreation patterns in the Tetons. These data will help wildlife managers in balancing bighorn sheep winter habitat requirements and backcountry recreation opportunities, ensuring the continuation of both in the future.