30 Bighorns to be Trapped at Wheeler Peak

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The New Mexico Department of Game and Fish plans to trap approximately 30 Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep from Wheeler Peak Aug. 11-16.

The animals will be sent to Arizona as part of an exchange with that state for desert bighorn sheep, which are endangered in New Mexico. Arizona sent 20 desert bighorn sheep to New Mexico last November.

"If we capture 10 more animals, we'll send them to one of the herds in the Gila," said Elise Goldstein, bighorn sheep biologist for the Department.

The animals would go either to Turkey Creek to augment its current population of 45 animals or to the San Francisco River, which now has 60 sheep.

Approximately 45 Department employees will be involved in the trapping operation, slated for Gold Hill, Taos Cone and the Taos Ski Valley parking area.

"The public should be aware that there will be helicopters and drop nets in those areas," said Goldstein. "People are welcome to talk with Department personnel at appropriate times. But they should keep a safe distance from helicopters and nets for their own safety as well as that of the animals and Department personnel."

Goldstein said she expects to capture mostly ewes and lambs.

"We're not taking any big rams," she said. "If a few smaller rams come under the net, we'll take them. But I don't expect to get a lot of rams, they don't hang out with the ewes."

The sheep will be transported to Arizona in horse trailers or crates designed for transporting bighorn sheep.