Effects of jet aircraft on mountain sheep

Paul R. Krausman, Mark C. Wallace, Charles L. Hayes, Donald W. DeYoung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Military-designated air spaces have been established above national parks and monuments, wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and Department of Defense lands. Each of these landscapes is managed differently, which has led to questions of compatibility between military aircraft and wildlife. We determined the influence of F-16 aircraft overflights on mountain sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) from January 1990 to May 1992 in the Desert National Wildlife Refuge, Nevada. We constructed a 320-ha enclosure and calibrated the area for sound pressure levels (i.e., noise) created by F-16: aircraft flying along the ridgeline of the mountains in the enclosure, approximately 125 m above ground level. In May 1990, we placed 12 mountain sheep from the surrounding area in the enclosure and monitored their behavior and use of habitats for 1 year to ensure they were familiar with the area before they were subjected to aircraft overflights. The habitat use and activity of the sheep in the enclosure were similar to free-ranging conspecifics. In May 1991, we instrumented 5 mountain sheep with heart-rate monitors and added them to the enclosure. During May 1991 to May 1992, F-16 aircraft flew over the enclosure 149 times during 3 1-month periods. We recorded heart rate and behavior of sheep 15 min preoverflight, during the overflight, and postoverflight. Heart rate increased above preflight levels in 21 of 149 overflights but returned to preflight levels within 120 sec. When F-16 aircraft flew over the enclosure, the noise levels created did not alter behavior or use of habitat, or increase heart rates to the detriment of the sheep in the enclosure.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1246-1254
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Wildlife Management
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1998


  • Aircraft
  • Behavior
  • Disturbance
  • Heart rate
  • Mountain sheep
  • Nevada
  • Noise
  • Ovis canadensis
  • Sound pressure


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