Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Wildland Resources


Gar W. Workman


Barrie K. Gilbert


Phillip J. Urness


Jessop B. Low


Donald V. Sisson


Desert bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) response to human disturbance was evaluated in southeastern Utah from 1981-1983. Bighorn response was compared between the Red Canyon area, an area with relatively high levels of human disturbance, and the White Canyon area, an area with relatively low levels of human disturbance. Bighorn were deliberately harassed by vehicles and hikers and immediate response and distance fled were recorded. When bighorn remained in the presence of the harassing stimuli, actual time spent in and proportion of animals engaged in various behaviors were recorded to determine group wariness and activity budgets under harassed conditions. Bighorn were also observed under unharassed conditions to compare behavior between harassed and unharassed conditions.

Red Canyon bighorn responded more severely to harassment trials than White Canyon bighorn. Response by Red Canyon bighorn was generally running flight whereas White Canyon bighorn responded most often with non-flight behaviors. Group wariness was greater for Red Canyon bighorn than White Canyon bighorn when bighorn were exposed to continuous harassment. Activity budgets of unharassed bighorn were similar between areas, however, activity budgets of harassed animals differed significantly between areas particularly with respect to attention and feeding behaviors. Red Canyon bighorn were at attention longer and fed less than White Canyon bighorn under harassed conditions.

Energy-nutrient relationships, hunting ramifications, and management implications as they relate to harassment of desert bighorn sheep in southeastern Utah are Discussed.