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Bighorn sheep water supply on Antelope Island in question

(Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY  — The unrelenting drought has wildlife experts concerned about the dwindling water supply on Antelope Island. And specifically, they are worried about the bighorn sheep that live at the island’s higher elevations. 

A wildlife biologist of more than two decades, Steve Bates told KSL TV this year’s drought is the worst he’s ever experienced. That’s why Antelope Island State Park officials are considering flying in water to help the herd of about 30 bighorn sheep brought to the island in 2020. 

“We just want to proactively provide for them and make sure that they’re going to be carried through the remainder of this year, during this hot part of the year,” said Bates. 

The airlifted water would be used to replenish several man-made water receptacles called guzzlers. While some natural springs are still flowing through bighorn country, the guzzlers are all dry. 

“We didn’t receive any winter moisture and we haven’t had any rainstorms to speak of, so there’s been no refill of those guzzlers,” Bates explains. 

Fortunately, Bates and park officials took some preemptive steps years ago by installing a 100,000-gallon tank at a lower elevation for the bison. He says they are doing just fine this year. 

Biologists will continue to monitor the water situation for the bighorn sheep on the island. If it becomes necessary, they will fly water in to refill the guzzlers. However, he hopes a heavy winter will refill them naturally.