BIG BEND NATIONAL PARK, Texas — Thursday, the National Park Service, in coordination with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, concluded aerial surveying for native Bighorn Sheep and removal operations targeting non-native Aoudad, or Barbary sheep, in the Dead Horse Mountains and Boquillas Canyon areas of Big Bend National Park.

On August 16, 81 Aoudad were successfully removed by trained marksmen aboard helicopters. 

Due to landscape ruggedness, distances, lack of road access, extreme temperatures, and concern for the safety of removal staff, remains will be left on the landscape and returned to the park nutrient cycle by scavenging and carrion-feeding wildlife, and natural decomposition.

The aerial operation served two purposes: First, biologists aboard the helicopter were able to survey for native sheep. 

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Sixteen bighorn were observed, to include rams, ewes, and lambs. This is the most that have ever been counted according to park records. 

Second, the removal of Aoudad, which severely threaten the park’s small population of native bighorn sheep.

“I would like to thank the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for all of their assistance in this operation,” said Big Bend National Park Superintendent Bob Krumenaker. “Having a great partnership with a state agency like Texas Parks and Wildlife certainly allows Big Bend National Park to further the mission of the National Park Service: preserving unimpaired the natural and cultural resources of the park for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations."

This effort is part of Big Bend’s long-term, integrated approach to control exotic animals and protect park resources. 

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Management of aoudad is in keeping with the Big Bend Exotic Animal Management Plan and Environmental Assessment, finalized in June 2018. 

To see this plan, visit https://www.nps.gov/bibe/getinvolved/planning.htm