During the winter of 1990/91 30% of the Whiskey mountain bighorn sheep herd was lost to a pneumonia outbreak. By 1997 the herd was half of what it had been. The geologist David Love reported seeing deformities in the sheep, that he had seen in animals with selenium poisoning. Later testing showed that the sheep were actually suffering from low selenium levels. The effects of either can sometimes be the same. Further study demonstrated that selenium deficiencies were indeed affecting the herd, and manifesting in the form of White Muscle Disease. Pat Hnilicka also observed “periodontal disease” in the herd. This has later been described to be very similar what has been observed as under bites, in animals in Utah, Montana, and Wyoming. This study also demonstrated that nitrate deposition was lowering forage selenium levels.
Torrey rim, at the foot of Whiskey Mountain, has been the site of habitat improvements for the Whiskey mountain bighorn sheep herd. Sage brush cover has been significantly reduced, and the entire area altered over the last 20+ years.
Here is an excerpt from one proposal dated 2001 “Prescribed burns, herbicide control of mat forming cushion plants, range pitting, meadow restoration on BLM Ridge, Noon Rock, Whiskey Mountain, Sheep Ridge, Torrey Rim, Rim Draw, Trail Lake (HAs 9,10): 1170-1350 acres total” Many of these treatments were intended to reduce sagebrush, and increase grass growth. The report for pre 2000 habitat enhancements is no longer available on line.