Utah Bighorn Sheep Viewing Event Nov. 16-17

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November is the best time of the year to see desert bighorn sheep.

It's their rutting (breeding) season, and the time of year when rams engage in head-butting and other rituals to attract the attention of the ladies (female sheep called ewes).

"The antics of the rams makes for some exciting public viewing," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

That's why Stettler and other DWR staff have chosen Nov. 16 and 17 as the dates for this year's Bighorn Sheep Festival.

The festival will be held in and near Moab in sunny southeastern Utah.

The event is free. The DWR encourages everyone to attend.

What to bring

When you come to the event, plan on bringing 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 be ready to guide you to locations where the bighorns have been recently observed.

If you don't have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, or a vehicle that will get you where the sheep are, don't worry: the biologists have extra spotting scopes and binoculars you can use. They also have several large four-wheel-drive vehicles that they'll use to get you where the sheep are.

Nov. 16—learn about the sheep

The festival begins on Friday evening, Nov. 16, at the Moab Information Center. The center is at the corner of Center and Main streets in Moab.

At 7 p.m., Bill Bates, regional wildlife manager for the DWR, will present a PowerPoint program about bighorn sheep ecology and their life history. Bates studied desert bighorn sheep in the Moab area for his Master's Degree thesis.

Bates will also have some bighorn sheep skulls and horns you can see and handle, and he'll be available to answer any questions you have.

Nov. 17—see the sheep!

The fun really gets rolling on the morning of Nov. 17.

At 8 a.m., DWR biologists and festivalgoers will meet again at the Moab information Center. Biologists will divide everyone into groups. Then the groups will travel to various areas near Moab in search of desert bighorn sheep.

All the parties will be in radio contact with each other. As soon as one group finds some sheep, all the parties will know about it.

If you bring your own vehicle, you can leave the group at any time. If you ride in a vehicle with one of the DWR biologists, plan on the field trip ending by noon or early afternoon.

For more information, contact Brent Stettler at (435) 613-3707 or brentstettler@utah.gov.