A dozen endangered Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep were released in Yosemite National Park last week. They included nine ewes and three rams from the Inyo National Forest and Sequoia National Park.

The Sierra Nevada bighorn is the only federally endangered mammal in Yosemite, listed in 2000 after the population plunged to record lows (around 100). The park estimates that prior to the arrival of white settlers, the bighorn populations likely numbered in the thousands.

“Bighorn sheep are a true symbol of wilderness and represent the need to protect wild lands,” said Frank Dean, Yosemite Conservancy President. “With the reintroduction, visitors will experience a wilderness similar to that found in the days of John Muir, when large alpine wildlife was abundant.”

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