See Bighorn Sheep, Dec. 3 in Utah
Early December is the perfect time to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. That's why Dec. 3, 2011 is the day Division of Wildlife Resources staff have chosen to hold this year's Bighorn Sheep Watch.
Photo by Brent Stettler
The cliff-edged corridor along the Green River is a great place to find wild sheep. Rams are wrapping up the last few weeks of the annual breeding season, known as the rut. It's the time of year when rams of equal size engage in head-butting, sparring and kicking to determine which rams will breed the females.
"Full-blown head crashes are uncommon," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, "but the gamut of courtship and breeding behaviors by both sexes is fascinating to watch. Last year, we saw rams, ewes and lambs within 50 yards of our position."
The watch will be held near Green River. The event is free. Everyone is encouraged to attend. "You don't need to pre-register," Stettler says, "but please be on time."
When you come to the event, bring a pair of binoculars or a spotting scope along with snacks, drinks and a camera. If you don't have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, no problem—the biologists will have extra spotting scopes and binoculars for you to use.
8 a.m. on Dec. 3
If you'd like to participate, meet at 8 a.m. on Dec. 3 at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River. The museum is at 1765 E. Main Street.
(If you're traveling along Interstate 70, the easiest way to find the museum is to exit the freeway at the second Green River exit and drive into town. The museum is situated on the east side of the Green River.)
DWR biologists will guide participants up the Green River corridor. "For those who have tried to find wild sheep, they know it's a very difficult thing to do," Stettler says. "Having a biologist as a guide is a huge advantage."
Stettler says the DWR biologists have a lot of experience finding the sheep. "If the bighorns are there," he says, "our biologists will find them."
The field trip usually ends around noon, but if you drive your own vehicle, you can leave at any time.
The road the group will travel changes from asphalt to gravel and then to dirt. Depending on rain or snow, the road may be muddy and unsuitable for passenger cars. For that reason, the DWR will furnish two large four-wheel drive passenger vehicles to help participants reach the sheep.
Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, Stettler can't guarantee 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 well worth your time."
For more information, contact Stettler at 435-613-3707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.