Portions of Big Bend National Park will be closed in October due to removal of non-native sheep

Authorities will be shooting aoudad by helicopter at the Deadhorse Mountains, surrounding areas

Big Bend National Park (Getty Images)

SAN ANTONIO – The National Park Service will close sections of the Big Bend National Park in October due to the aerial shootings of non-native aoudad (barbary sheep).

The NPS said the removal of the non-native aoudad will start on Oct. 3 and will last for about two weeks.

During that time, the Deadhorse Mountains and surrounding areas, including the Dagger Flat Road and Old Ore Road, will be closed.

Authorities said they will work with the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to remove non-native aoudad. They will use “helicopters and staff trained in aerial shooting operations,” a news release states.

The NPS said the animals are native to Northern Africa but have “established a foothold within the park” over the last 30 years.

Their removal is aimed at protecting the native desert bighorn sheep, the release stated.

“Barbary sheep occupy the same habitats as the park’s small population of native desert bighorn sheep and negatively impact the natural ecology of the park,” the release states. “Large groups of aoudad can prevent desert bighorn from accessing water, threaten biodiversity, and impair park visitors’ ability to experience natural conditions and scenery.”

Authorities will also conduct surveys on the aoudad and bighorn sheep on The Mesa de Anguila on Oct. 9, but no shootings are planned for that area.

Visitors are urged to follow closure signs on trailheads and roads.

For more information, click here.

Helicopter operation closures at Big Bend National Park. (NPS/Big Bend National Park)

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Rebecca Salinas joined KSAT in the fall of 2019. Her skills include content management, engagement and reporting.