South Okanagan property purchased for bighorn sheep, other at-risk species | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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South Okanagan property purchased for bighorn sheep, other at-risk species

Image Credit: Alberta Fish and Wildlife

A Skaha Lake property has been protected from future development after it was purchased to preserve the landscape for bighorn sheep and other critters.

The Nature Trust of British Columbia recently announced 29.2 hectares have been bought by the non-profit to support conservation efforts in the South Okanagan.

The property expands the nature trust’s Skaha Lake eastside conservation complex, south of Penticton. This new property is adjacent to the McTaggart-Cowan/ns?k’lniw’t wildlife management area and provides valuable habitat for several species at risk, according to the trust’s news release.

READ MORE: South Okanagan conservation initiative to aid Bighorn Sheep, other endangered species

The Skaha Lake eastside conservation complex adds important habitat for bighorn sheep for foraging, lambing, and escaping predators, according to the trust.

Open and native grassland cover less than 1% of B.C.’s land base and provide habitat for more than 30% of B.C.’s species at risk.

Grasslands support more threatened and endangered plants and animals than any other habitat type in the province. With the South Okanagan irreversibly losing native grasslands due to human development and cultivation, it is crucial we protect the undisturbed grasslands that remain, according to the trust.

READ MORE: Penticton Indian Band opposed to bighorn sheep hunting

Bighorn Sheep are a species of provincial concern in British Columbia.

They depend on mixed habitat to survive including cliffs, grasslands, and escape terrain. Human pressures on their habitat have reduced their distribution in the Okanagan. Their grassland habitat has experienced degradation, fragmentation and outright loss. Increased human activity has disrupted their movements, decreased population size and increased their susceptibility to disease, according to the trust.

The property will also help other endangered and threatened species like the pallid bat American badger, Lewis’s woodpecker, Western screech owl, desert nightsnake, Western rattlesnake and great basin gopher snake.

READ MORE: Deadly virus killed numerous bighorn sheep in South Okanagan this year

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