Episode 37 – Evolution, Hunting and Bighorn Sheep with Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet
Evolution, Hunting and Bighorn Sheep with Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet
In the first episode of 2021, Mark and Curtis are joined by Dr. Marco Festa-Bianchet from the Unversité de Sherbrooke in Quebec. In addition to studying roos down under Marco has been researching bighorn sheep in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta for many decades. Marco covers when and how wild sheep got to North America as well as the species and sub species that now inhabit the continent. Marco explains the role of small horns and the role of big horns when it comes to mating success in bighorn sheep. The guys learn about the current harvest strategy for bighorn sheep in Alberta and its role in the evolutionary change in the size of ram horns along with what shrinking horn size means at a population level. Other topics covered include genetic recovery, pedigree-based research, lumping versus splitting in wild sheep taxonomy, intensive selective hunting pressure versus trophy hunting, full curl hunting restrictions on mountain sheep, evolutionary affect of hunting horned animals versus antlered animals, peak ram harvest periods in Alberta, the difference in the age of rams harvested near versus far from the National Parks, the declining ram harvest in Alberta versus the rest of North America, the reactions of the hunting and anti-hunting communities to Marco’s research and ice fishing on thin ice.
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