The enclosed Environmental Assessment (EA) has been prepared to evaluate the potential for establishing a bighorn sheep population in the Bridger Mountains of southwest Montana. Like most mountain ranges in southwest Montana, the Bridgers once supported a native population of bighorn sheep through at least the early 1900’s. Bighorn sheep were extirpated in the Bridgers and throughout much of the west around the turn of the century due to a variety of reasons including disease, over hunting and competition for forage with other grazers, often livestock. There has been continued Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MFWP) and public interest in reintroducing bighorns into the Bridgers for over 30 years. The current proposal is to capture approximately 30-40 bighorn sheep from elsewhere in Montana and release them on suitable winter range in Middle Cottonwood Creek on the west slopes of the Bridgers. Prior to release a portion of the bighorn sheep will be marked with radio transmitters to determine movements and distribution. In the EA the proposed transplant is evaluated using MFWP’s Montana Bighorn Sheep Conservation Strategy, a statewide bighorn sheep management plan, completed in January, 2010. MFWP invites you to comment on the attached bighorn sheep transplant proposal. There is a 22-day public comment period from November 5-26, 2012. Comments will be accepted until 5:00 PM, Monday November 26, 2012. You are also invited to attend a public meeting on the proposed bighorn sheep transplant project to be held at 6-8 PM on Thursday November 15, 2012 at the MFWP Region 3 Headquarters, 1400 South 19th Ave., Bozeman, MT 59718.
Julie Cunningham, Bozeman Area Wildlife Biologist, 1400 South 19th Ave., Bozeman, MT 59718 or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.