Desert bighorn sheep were extirpated from the Mexican state of Chihuahua during the 1960s. The wild Sheep Foundation honored the man who brought them back, a man whose incredible and dedicated effort resulted in more than 330 desert bighorns back on the mountain.
In 1981 Jose Antonio Vallina purchased a special ranch, Rancho La Guarida with a dream to repatriate desert bighorns into their native home and habitat. After three years of habitat improvement, water development and restoration of native flora by the removal of cattle he was ready… but it took 18 years of relentless effort and perseverance with permitting and convincing the Chihuahua State Government about the importance of the reintroduction of this iconic species. In 2000, four desert bighorns were released, and then with the support and cooperation of CEMEX, more sheep were released.
Today there are more than 300 desert bighorns back on the mountain and 30 have been taken off to start new herds on two more ranches in the state with more trap and transplants planned. Regulated hunting is ensuring that bighorns reign and Rancho La Guarida rams are now accepted for entry into the Boone & Crocket Record Book. After more than 20 years, SeñorVallina’s dream has become a reality.
We know the bighorns are an indicator species. With the habitat improvements and water projects the mule deer population has also rebounded and Señor Vallina has taken 80 deer off to foster populations in Chihuahua as well as 70 deer trapped and transplanted to suitable habitat in the states of San Luis Potosi and Zacatecas where they were extirpated in the 1950′s.
WSF was pleased to honor Jose Antonio Vallina with a WSF Special Conservation Award during the Thursday Conservation Night banquet during “Sheep Week” in Reno for Putting and Keeping Sheep on the Mountain… and mule deer as well. WS.