OUT: OUTside Connection December 03, 2008

DOW to launch study of Monument sheep

KIM McCORMICK/Special to The Daily Sentinel
DESERT BIGHORN SHEEP are gray ghosts of slickrock country, rarely seen by the casual hiker or backpacker. However, sightings recently have been reported in Monument Canyon in Colorado National Monument, where Grand Junction photographer Kim McCormick made this image of at least four rams in a bachelor herd.

For various and little-understood reasons, western Colorado’s Black Ridge desert bighorn sheep herd has shrunk to around 90 animals from a high of around 125 animals two decades ago.

Later this month, the Colorado Division of Wildlife will begin a two-stage project to capture some of those sheep in Colorado National Monument, Black Ridges Canyon Wilderness Area and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area. Sheep will be captured using both helicopter netting and ground nets.

Herd dynamics, habitat selection, major causes of mortality and contact with other herds will be studied, said Stephanie Duckett, terrestrial biologist with the DOW Northwest Region.

All the trapping and handling of sheep will be done by researchers. Volunteers are needed to distribute information to recreational users of the area.

What: Division of Wildlife Black Ridge Sheep Capture.

Why: Part of an effort to improve herd management.

Volunteers: Needed to stand at trailheads and inform visitors of the study.

When: Starting around Dec. 10.

Contact: Stephanie Duckett, DOW terrestrial biologist, at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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