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Montana Bighorn Sheep Supplement Utah Herds

January 14, 2009.

From Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks:

Montana wildlife officials captured 60 bighorn sheep the first weekend in January for transplant to Utah.

"We captured nine young rams,” says Brent Lonner, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks wildlife biologist. “The rest were ewes and three or four lambs."

The sheep were recently transported to northeastern Utah to supplement herds at Lake and Indian canyons, southwest of Duchesne. The Utah Chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep funded the $54,000 transplant effort, which was a collaboration among FWP, Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources, and FNAWS chapters in Montana and Utah.

"It’s a great day for 60 Montana bighorn sheep that now call Utah their home," said Gary Thornton, president of the Wild Sheep Foundation in Cody, Wyo.

Thornton noted that the most of the fundraising for the project was spearhead by the Utah FNAWS’s "Put and Keep Sheep in the Mountains" campaign.

The sheep were taken from two spots on the Rocky Mountain Front near Willow Creek and in the Sun River Canyon, where bighorn population numbers are over objective.

"We try to find a balance between hunting harvest and trap and transplant," Lonner said. "If the herds grow too large, the animals become more susceptible to disease."

A crew from New Zealand captured the sheep using a net gun from a helicopter.

No more sheep captures are planned this year along the Rocky Mountain Front.

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