Updated: Friday, 04 Mar 2011, 7:48 PM MST
Published : Friday, 04 Mar 2011, 7:46 PM MST
LORDSBURG, N.M. (KRQE) - ten desert bighorn sheep were brought this week to New Mexico from Mexico in an effort to rebuild New Mexico's threatened population.
Staff from the New Mexico Game and Fish Department made the trek to the mountains of Mexico this week to bring back the rams, a trek that was potentially dangerous since drug cartels are known to roam the area.
The 10 young rams were given by Mexico in exchange for 300 New Mexico pronghorn antelope.
The rams are now at the Red Rock Wildlife area in the Gila country in southwestern New Mexico where they will breed naturally. Just 30 years ago the desert bighorn was considered an endangered species with just 70 animals left in New Mexico. Since this rehabilitation program began, the population has grown to an estimated 560, and the species is now listed as threatened.
Game and Fish biologists say the offspring will then be released to the wild when they are grown.
According to New Mexico Game and Fish, the program is paid for entirely by hunter fees.