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Fauna Series No. 6








Life History





Fauna of the National Parks — No. 6
The Bighorn of Death Valley
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IN CONDUCTING intermittent but intensive research on bighorn sheep in California since 1948, I have developed a deep interest and concern for the species. Over this period of time it has become painfully obvious that our knowledge of the ecology of the animal is extremely rudimentary. The inaccessibility of bighorn habitat, the low-density populations and climate adversities, particularly in the desert regions, have precluded any volume of repetitive, detailed observations. It is only through such observations that the complexity of bighorn existence can ever be even partly understood. Until we have a better understanding, we cannot begin to materially assist the animals in their problems of survival.

It is precisely this type of detailed investigative program that Mr. and Mrs. Welles have conducted. They possess an intellectual ability of unusually high quality and have demonstrated a clarity of purpose and a devotion to the academic approach that mark them as researchers of the highest caliber. By completely disregarding the many generally accepted, although only tentatively supported, facets of bighorn behavior and ecology, Mr. and Mrs. Welles have injected a sorely needed fresh approach to their study. They have produced many highly significant new facts from their very detailed observations.

It is my sincere feeling that Mr. and Mrs. Welles' research has materially advanced our knowledge of the ecology of bighorn. By so doing they have advanced the cause of perpetuating the species as a continuing unique element of our native wilderness.

FRED L. JONES,Game Management Supervisor,
California Department of Fish and Game.

AUGUST 26, 1961.

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