Wildlife News

See bighorn sheep on Dec. 7

Free wildlife-viewing event on Dec. 7, 2013

GREEN RIVER — You can see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep up close at the annual Bighorn Sheep Watch. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the free event on Dec. 7 along the Green River in southeastern Utah.

Early December is the best time of the year to view Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Early December is the best time of the year to view Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

Photo by Brent Stettler

"Bighorns are in the rut this time of year," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, "so they're less wary of people."

Since the sheep are focused on courtship and breeding, Stettler says they'll let vehicles get closer than they normally would.

In past years, participants have gotten within 50 yards of bighorns. Occasionally, the group sees rams butt heads. Most of the time, though, members of the group watch large rams kick and harass smaller males. The ewes and lambs seem relatively uninterested in the harassment.

"The opportunity to see the courtship behavior of these animals is worth the trip," Stettler says.

It's free

The Dec. 7 watch will take place along an eight-mile stretch of road alongside the Green River.

The group will meet at 8 a.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum parking lot, 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. From the parking lot, the group will caravan to the river road. The road is asphalt, gravel and packed dirt. It's suitable for passenger cars, except after a rain or snow storm.

The event is free, and you don't need to pre-register. Those who attend should bring binoculars, a spotting scope and a camera. "Wear warm clothing," Stettler says, "and bring water and snacks, or a lunch."

Stettler will have extra spotting scopes and binoculars to lend to you, if you don't have your own. Also, if you don't want to drive, you can ride with DWR personnel.

Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, Stettler can't guarantee you'll see sheep. "Regardless of the outcome," he says, "the beauty of the Green River will make the trip worthwhile."

For more information, call Stettler at 435-613-3707, or email him at brentstettler@utah.gov.

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