Dr. John Wehausen runs a genetics laboratory out of a cabin in Bishop to save the Sierra Bighorn
In a cabin on the outskirts of Bishop behind a pile of horse manure, Dr. John Wehausen has created a genetics laboratory dedicated to saving the Sierra Bighorn Sheep.
The Sheet wrote about Dr. Wehausen in its September 22 issue.
Wehausen has been working to save the Sierra Bighorn since 1974. In 1999, when their population dipped below 100 animals, he petitioned to get them on the endangered species list. Wehausen’s efforts and his makeshift genetics laboratory have helped increase the Sierra Bighorn population to more than 600 in the wild today.
However, his funding stream from the state of California ran dry six years ago, when Wehausen was 63.
“I was forced to retire,” he said, but there was still work to be done.
Instead of calling it a career, Wehausen decided to continue his work pro-bono, as a sort of vigilante genetic biologist.
In his ramshackle laboratory, he conducts experiments rarely seen outside of a research university, often on donated equipment or through processes he invented.
In fact, Wehausen takes pride in his out-of-date equipment – it’s like a badge of honor. He built his own Class 100 clean hood, a piece that might cost thousands of dollars to purchase, out of a vacuum cleaner and some plexi-glass.
His ingenuity has allowed him to perform high level experiments with much lower costs.