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Part of the Bump and Grind trail remains closed as lambing season begins

Published On: Feb 07 2013 06:56:43 PM CST
Updated On: Feb 07 2013 08:01:45 PM CST

The section of the trail could open as early as next month after lambing season ends.

PALM DESERT, Cali. -

 For the bighorn sheep in the mountains surrounding the valley, lambing season can be sporadic.
     So far, no sightings.
     But, biologists spotted them in early January last year.
     Aimee Byard is a biologist and assistant director at the Bighorn Institute. She explains, "We don't know why it was early last year. It was actually early the past two years, a lot of lambs born in January and it can fluctuate. With our ideal climate conditions here in the valley, that's why there's such a long lambing season compared to other sheep."
     The Department of Fish and Game in California closed Magnesia and Carrizo canyons to protect the lambs and it's keeping the upper portion of the popular bump and grind trail closed.
     That section of the trail backs into a historical lambing area near Ramon Peak. During lambing season, the ewes and lambs need their space.
     "Well, the ewes are very sensitive during lambing season and when they're about to give birth so they'll isolate away even from their own kind, other ewes, to give birth," Byard tells us.
     Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill in September to re-open the section of the bump and grind trail last month, but it's up to the Department of Fish and Game to actually unlock the gate...which several hikers bypass anyway.
     Mike Powell tries to hike the bump and grind two or three times a week. He tells us, "Some people do it anyway, they sneak back there and you know you can get past the gate pretty readily and I've never done it so I wish I could tell you but, I think if you go up to the top it would probably be a nice experience."
     The season can last until June, but Fish and Game hopes the trail can be opened in the next month.
     In the meantime, hikers should respect the animals territory.
     Byard says, "You can tell when they're pregnant. And there's a lot of pregnant ewes, there's a lot of ewes that could probably give birth any day now, and there's a lot of ewes that might be a couple weeks, could be the end of the month. But, there's definitely lambs in the near future."
     That's a good sign for the sheep population which saw an increase last year, for the first time in five years.