Utah Travel Headlines Blog

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

View Wild Bighorn Sheep

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources is sponsoring a Bighorn Sheep Festival, Nov 20-21 in the Moab area. The wildlife management agency provided this information. (Photo courtesy of Brent Stettler.)

November is the best time of the year to see desert bighorn sheep. It's their 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 way the rams act this time of the year is fun and exciting to watch," says Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the Division of Wildlife Resources.

That's why Stettler and other DWR staff have chosen Nov. 20 and 21 as the dates for the 2009 Bighorn Sheep Watch.

The festival will be held in and near Moab in sunny southeastern Utah.
The event is free. Stettler encourages everyone to attend.

What to bring
When you come to the event, bring 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 guide you to locations where they've observed bighorns recently.

If you don't have your own binoculars or a spotting scope, don't worry: the biologists have extra spotting scopes and binoculars you can use.

Nov. 20 — learn about the sheep
The festival begins on Friday evening, Nov. 20, at the Moab Information Center. The center is at the corner of Center and Main streets in Moab.

At 7 p.m., Justin Shannon, regional wildlife manager for the DWR, will present a PowerPoint program about bighorn sheep ecology and their life history. Shannon did his graduate thesis on this very topic.

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

Nov. 21 — see the sheep!
The fun really gets rolling on the morning of Nov. 21.

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.

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. "You can almost always see bighorn from asphalt roads in Moab Canyon and along the Colorado River, so don't worry about your vehicle's off-road capability," Stettler says.

Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, the DWR can't guarantee that sheep will be seen at close range, or even at all. "We almost always see sheep," Stettler says. "But even if we don't, you can still enjoy the unmatched beauty of the Colorado River Scenic Byway."

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

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