Sunnyside bighorn watch scheduled for June 18
Those who live in Sunnyside have an advantage no one else in Utah has - they get to share part of their town with a herd of wild Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.
Visitors can enjoy what the residents of Sunnyside get to enjoy at a free viewing event. The Division of Wildlife Resources will host the event on June 18.
Biologists will be available from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. to help you locate the animals and to answer your questions. Late afternoon until dusk is usually the best time to see the sheep.
The Sunnyside bighorn sheep herd consists entirely of rams, which number about 25 animals from year to year.
Each year, the sheep spend the summer in the general vicinity of the Sunnyside fire station and the cliffs that surround the area near the station. They water at Grassy Trail Creek and forage on native and reclaimed vegetation in the area.
This band of bighorns is used to cars and people, so you can observe and photograph the sheep at close range.
Brent Stettler, a DWR regional conservation outreach manager, says spotting scopes and binoculars will be available for you to use. The sheep can be viewed from the road, so if you have physical challenges, you don't need to worry about hiking or walking to see them.
Stettler also has some requests. "Please leave your dog at home," and make sure children stay quiet so they don't spook the animals. he says. "Dogs can startle the sheep."
Noisy children can have the same effect. "Please bring your kids," he says, "but please encourage them to speak quietly as they view the sheep."
Stettler says it's also important to remember that the sheep are wild. Their behavior and whereabouts can't be predicted or guaranteed. "There's always the possibility that they won't appear as hoped for on June 18," he says.
If you can't make it to the event on June 18, don't be discouraged. Stettler says you can drive to Sunnyside another day.
"The sheep stay in the same general area until early fall," Stettler says. "You can often see them near the road at the far side of the town or in the canyon beyond the town.
"Although seeing the band of sheep is a gamble any time you go," he says, "late afternoon until dark are the best times to try."
For more information, contact Stettler at (435) 613-3707 or firstname.lastname@example.org.