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Concerns grow over Big Horn Sheep population.

The Kofa Wildlife Refuge has conducted a new survey shows there are about 428 desert bighorn sheep on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Kofa National Wildlife Refuge in southwestern Arizona. The data indicates the numbers are  up from the 2010 survey estimate of 402 sheep.

Kofa bighorn sheep surveys have been conducted since 1981. Adjusting for margin of error and survey methodology, biologists say there has been no significant decline or improvement to the herd’s population in the past six years.

Wildlife management agencies remain concerned about the low population levels on the refuge compared to the estimated 812 animals of the 2000 survey.  Drought, predators, water availability, and disease are listed as possible reasons behind the recent decline in number.

The Kofa National Wildlife Refuge is located northeast of  Yuma, southeast of Quartzite.   The refuge, established in 1939 to protect the Desert Big Horn Sheep, encompasses over 665,400 acres of the Yuma Desert. Broad, gently sloping foothills as well as the sharp, needlepoint

peaks of the Kofa Mountains are found in the rugged refuge. The small, widely scattered waterholes attract a surprising number of water birds for a desert area. A wide variety of plant life is also found throughout the refuge.

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