Dozens of majestic bighorn sheep have moved into a Texas state park as part of wildlife restoration efforts aimed at returning the sheep to their historic range.
Twelve curly-horned rams and 34 ewes plucked by helicopter from one rugged area of West Texas now call the Bofecillos Mountains along the Rio Grande in Big Bend Ranch State Park home. The capture and release days before Christmas was the latest step in a decades-long restoration project to bring the mountain sheep back to their range after unfettered hunting, fencing and disease from other animals decimated their numbers.
All but gone from Texas by the 1960s from more than 1,500 in the late 1800s, efforts to restore them in Texas’ Trans-Pecos region have proved successful. This fall, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department biologists tallied 1,115 sheep in Texas, up from 822 in 2006 and 352 in 2002.