Thursday, October 29, 2009

2009 Moab Bighorn Sheep Watch set for November

PRICE — On November 20–21, 2009, the Division of Wildlife Resources (DWR) will sponsor its annual Moab Bighorn Sheep Watch. The event is free to the public. There is no pre-registration. Sheep watchers are encouraged to bring a pair of binoculars, spotting scope and camera.

The DWR will guide participants to locations where bighorns have recently been observed, and will have extra spotting scopes and binoculars for public use. The DWR will also provide a large passenger vehicle for those who wish to ride-share.

The event begins on Friday evening at 7 p.m. in the Moab Information Center, located at the corner of Center and Main. Justin Shannon, DWR regional wildlife program manager will present a PowerPoint program on bighorn sheep ecology and life history. Mr. Shannon's graduate thesis was on this very subject. Bighorn skulls and horns will be displayed as part of his presentation.

The following morning, participants will meet at the Moab Information Center, where they will search for bighorn sheep in the Moab area. Bighorns are almost always seen from asphalt roads in Moab Canyon and along the Colorado River, so don't worry about your vehicle's off-road capability. For those who ride-share, the field trip generally finishes by noon or early afternoon.

Mid-November is the peak of the bighorn sheep rut, when bighorn rams compete for breeding rights with horn clashes and other threatening behaviors to intimidate rivals. Head-butting occurs only when competing rams are equally matched in horn and body size. Otherwise, more subtle harassment of inferior rams occurs.

Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, the DWR can't guarantee that sheep will be seen at close range or even at all. Participants need to be aware of that possibility at the outset. However, in the event that no bighorns are observed, participants can still enjoy the unmatched beauty of the Colorado River Scenic Byway. For more information, contact Brent Stettler at 435-613-3707 or

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