Bighorn sheep get their drinking water |

Bighorn sheep get their drinking water

Don Quilici

As a general rule, desert (Nelson) bighorn sheep drink at least one gallon of water per day during the hot summer months of Southern Nevada.

That’s a period of about 100 days, and with the prolonged drought having a significant impact on natural water sources, wildlife biologists with the Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) were growing concerned.

To augment natural water sources, NDOW has built numerous water developments (known as “Guzzlers”) in the mountains throughout Southern Nevada. These devices trap and store rainwater for use by the sheep and other wildlife, but the rainfall during the past year had been insufficient. By early summer many of the tanks were very low on water and others nearly dry.

Annual tank inspections revealed “the sheep had been drinking 50 percent more water than previously calculated,” said Craig , NDOW’s wildlife biologist who oversees water developments. “We arrived just in time.”

With just a few phone calls, funding was arranged and volunteers were organized to ferry water into numerous water developments.

The NDOW helicopter began flying in early May, and by the time the project was over in mid-July more than 30,000 gallons of water had been ferried into the Guzzlers across Southern Nevada.

“You sure find out who your friends are when things get rough,” said Stevenson of groups like the Fraternity of the Desert Bighorn, Nevada Bighorns Unlimited and the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep who provided funding and volunteer personnel for the project.