Monday, November 22, 2010

Bighorn Sheep Viewing set for Dec. 3 and 4

Photo by Brent Stettler, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources

Green River -- Early December is the perfect time to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

The animals wrap up their breeding season in December. It’s the time of year when rams charge into each other, slamming their horns together in a spectacular head-butting ritual that‘s designed to attract the attention of the ladies (female sheep called ewes).

“It’s fun and exciting to watch the way the rams act this time of the year,” says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

That’s why Stettler and other DWR staff have chosen Dec. 3 and 4 as the dates for this year’s Bighorn Sheep Watch.

The watch will be held in and near the towns of Price and Green River this year.

The event is free. Stettler encourages everyone to attend.

What to bring
When you come to the event, bring a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope along with snacks, drinks and a camera.

DWR biologists will watch the sheep before the event. They’ll guide you to places where they’ve found bighorns recently.

If you don’t have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, no problem—the biologists have extra spotting scopes and binoculars you can use.

Dec. 3 – learn about the sheep
The watch begins on Friday evening, Dec. 3, at the Price Fairgrounds Events Center in Price.

To reach the fairgrounds, exit U.S. Highway 6 at Exit 240 (the West Price exit). After exiting the freeway, turn right at the stop light at the bottom of the off-ramp. Then travel west, following the signs to the fairgrounds.

At 7 p.m., Justin Shannon, regional wildlife manager for the DWR, will give a presentation about bighorn sheep and their life history. Shannon did his graduate thesis on this very topic.

Shannon will also have bighorn sheep skulls and horns you can see and handle, and he’ll be available to answer your questions.

Dec. 4 – see the sheep!
The fun really gets rolling on the morning of Dec. 4.

At 8 a.m., those attending the event will meet with DWR biologists at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River. The museum is at 1765 E. Main St.

After meeting at the museum, the group will travel north up the Green River corridor in search of bighorn sheep. The road the group will travel changes from asphalt to gravel and then to packed dirt, but passenger cars can move along it just fine.

The field trip will probably end by noon or by early afternoon, but you can leave the field trip at any time.

Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, Stettler can’t guarantee that you’ll see sheep at close range, or even at all. “Even if we don’t see sheep,” Stettler says, "the beauty of the Green River should make the trip an event worth attending.”

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

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