Posted May 30, 2014, 1:01 pm
DWR hosts free June 14 viewing event
SUNNYSIDE — Those who live in Sunnyside share their town with some unique neighbors: a herd of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep!
The annual bighorn sheep watch in Sunnyside provides a unique chance to get close to Rocky Mountain bighorn rams.
Photo by Brent Stettler
A free wildlife viewing event on June 14 is your best chance to see the sheep. From 6 p.m. to dusk, biologists with the Division of Wildlife Resources will answer questions and suggest places in town to see the sheep.
"Bighorns are most visible in the evening," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, "so that's when we're holding the event. When the day cools down, they start feeding and drinking water."
Because of a persistent drought in the area, Stettler says spotting the herd will be more difficult this year. "But," he says, "about 25 rams have been seen in the Sunnyside area since last winter."
One of the rams is wearing a radio transmitter. The transmitter will help biologists locate the herd.
"Bighorn sheep are social," Stettler says, "so it's likely that the ram wearing the transmitter will be near other sheep. If he's visible from the road, chances are good that the others will be too."
Stettler says several biologists and wildlife watchers, all of whom have experience locating the herd, will be at the event.
"Your chance of seeing sheep at the event is far better than it will be on your own," he says. "Unfortunately, there's still a possibility that the sheep won't be visible."
The event is free, and Stettler encourages you to enjoy this unique opportunity. "Don't worry about hiking," Stettler says. "You can usually see the sheep from the road."
If you have a dog, Stettler asks you to leave it at home. "Even the barking of a dog sitting on your lap can push the herd away from a viewing site," he says. "Loud voices can have the same effect."
Sunnyside is less than 20 miles east of Price. To reach the town, travel southeast on U.S. Highway 6 to its junction with state Route 123, which is the East Carbon-Sunnyside junction. Turn east on Route 123, and follow it into Sunnyside. Once you're in town, signs will guide you to the viewing area.
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