Early December is the perfect time to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. That's why Brent Stettler, conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, has chosen Dec. 3 as the date for this year's Bighorn Sheep Watch.
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 their annual rut. It's the time of year when rams of equal size engage in head-butting, sparring, kicking and mounting to determine dominance for breeding rights.
"Full-blown head crashes are uncommon," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources, "but the gamut of courtship and breeding behaviors by the rams is fascinating to watch. Last year, we saw rams, ewes and lambs within 50 yards of our position."
The watch will be held in Green River. The event is free. Everyone is encouraged to participate. There will be no pre-registration. Just 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 have extra spotting scopes and binoculars you can use.
Participants should meet on Saturday morning at 8 a.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River. The museum is located at 1765 E. Main Street, and is most easily found by exiting I-70 at the second Green River exit and driving into town. 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. Having a biologist as a guide is a huge advantage," adds Stettler. "Our biologists have a lot of experience in finding sheep. If the bighorns are there, our biologists will find them." The field trip usually ends around noon, but those who drive their own vehicle may 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 passenger 4WD vehicles to provide participants with the opportunity to ride-share.
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.
Contact: Brent Stettler, DWR Southeastern Region Conservation Outreach Manager (435) 613-3707 or (435) 613-3700