Saturday, June 5, 2010

Visit Sunnyside Bighorn Sheep June 19

Sunnyside -- Those who live in Sunnyside have an advantage no one else in Utah has—they get to share their town with a herd of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep!

You can enjoy what the residents of Sunnyside get to enjoy at a free viewing event. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the event on June 19.

Biologists will be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on June 19 to help you locate the animals and answer your questions. Late afternoon until dusk is usually the best time to see the sheep.

Sunnyside bighorn sheep herd
The Sunnyside bighorn sheep herd consists entirely of rams, which number about 25 animals from year to year.

Each year, the sheep spend the summer in the general vicinity of the Sunnyside fire station and the cliffs that surround the area near the station. They water at Grassy Trail Creek and forage on native and reclaimed vegetation in the area.

This band of bighorns is used to cars and people, so they can be observed and photographed at close range.

“We’ll have spotting scopes and binoculars for you to use, but if you have your own optics, please bring them,” says Brent Stettler, DWR regional conservation outreach manager.

The viewing event is free, and Stettler encourages everyone to attend. The sheep can be viewed from the road, so if you have physical challenges, you don’t need to worry about hiking or walking to see them.

Stettler also has some requests. “Please leave your dog at home,” he says. “Dogs can startle the sheep. And noisy children can have the same effect. Please bring your kids, but please encourage them to speak quietly as they view the sheep.”

Stettler says it’s also important to remember that the sheep are wild. “Their behavior and whereabouts cannot be predicted or guaranteed,” he says. “There’s always the possibility that they won’t appear as hoped for on June 19.”

Sunnyside is less than 20 miles east of Price. To reach the town from Price, travel southeast on U.S. Highway 6 to its junction with state Route 123 (the East Carbon/Sunnyside junction). Turn east on Route 123; this road will take you into Sunnyside.

Signs in the town will guide you to the viewing area.

If you need gasoline or food, there’s a gas station in East Carbon and a grocery store in Sunnyside.

Viewing continues through the summer
If you can’t make it to the event on June 19, don’t be disheartened. Stettler says you can drive up another day.

“The sheep stay in the same general area until early fall,” Stettler says. “You can often see them near the road at the far side of the town or in the canyon beyond the town.

“Although seeing the band of sheep is a gamble any time you go, late afternoon until dark are the best times to try.”

For more information, contact Stettler at (435) 613-3707 or .

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