Desert bighorn sheep are a recently recovered species in New Mexico.
To many the bighorn are majestic icons of the american wilderness. Puma predation on recovering
desert bighorn populations presented considerable challenges to the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish,
the Turner Endangered Species Fund, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service during the recovery effort. Not the
least of these complications arose from the fact that the puma is perhaps more revered as an awe inspiring
symbol of all that we hope to conserve in the natural world. And, as an apex predator
these big cats play a vital role in the structure of ecological communities and in ecosystem function.
Furman is extremely fortunate to have this unique natural history display, showcasing not only the magnificence
of these two species, but also the complicated realities of conservation in practice. Both the
puma and the bighorn specimens are from the Fra Cristobal Mountains of New Mexico and were actual players in
this conservation story.