Early December is the perfect time to see Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep. That’s why Division of Wildlife Resources personnel have chosen Dec. 1 as the day to hold Utah’s annual Bighorn Sheep Watch.
The event is free, and pre-registration is not required. If you attend, Brent Stettler says you should bring a pair of binoculars, a spotting scope and a camera.
“Bighorns are in the rut this time of year, so they’re less wary of people,” says Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR. “Because they’re focused on courtship and breeding, they’ll allow vehicles to get closer to them than they normally would.”
During the rut, Stettler says equally matched rams will occasionally engage in head-butting. “At other times,” he says, “a superior ram will harass or drive off a smaller ram.”
To participate in the Dec. 1 event, meet at the John Wesley Powell Museum in Green River at 8 a.m. The museum is at 1765 E. Main St.
After everyone has gathered, DWR biologists will guide participants up the Green River corridor that’s adjacent to the town of Green River.
The road changes from asphalt to gravel and then to packed dirt, but it’s suitable for passenger cars.
“We’ll have extra spotting scopes and binoculars for you to use,” Stettler says. “And if you don’t want to drive your own car, you can ride with us in a large passenger vehicle we’ll have available.”
Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, Stettler can’t guarantee you’ll see sheep. “You need to be aware of that possibility at the outset,” Stettler says. “Regardless of the outcome, though, the beauty of the Green River will make the trip worthwhile for everyone who attends.”
Image courtesy Brent Stettler, Utah Division of Wildlife Resources