ROCKVILLE – A team of nearly 30 people helped safely captured and relocated 20 big horn sheep today to help repopulate big horn sheep in other areas near Kanab.
Blake Malo, a helicopter pilot with Quicksilver Air Inc., and his two adrenaline-rush buddies, made multiple trips carrying big horn sheep in slings under the helicopter from Bureau of Land Management land near Zion National Park to an off-highway flat area where Utah’s Division of Wildlife Resources wildlife biology team examined the animals.
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The team handling the relocation of the big horn sheep; and one of the many big horn sheep getting medical attention and subject of data gathering, Rockville, Utah, Jan. 15, 2013 | Videocast by Sarafina Amodt, St. George News.
Malo explained that his teammates used a net-gun to first capture the animals and then would often make a 10-foot jump out of the helicopter to approach the animal so that they could quickly blindfold it and then hobble its legs. This process does not harm the animal.
It is then buckled-up into a sling, snugly tightened by rope for extra safety, and then suspended from the helicopter. This process is performed on many different sizes of animals including moose, bears, deer and some small animals such as otters.
After safely flying a couple big horn sheep from remote areas to a more easily accessed area, they were gently let down and removed from their sling. Researchers and volunteers quickly approached the big horn sheep and began their examination.
The medical process sought to inquire about the sheep’s weight and temperature as well as drawing blood for disease testing. They were also tested with throat and nasal swabs for any sort of problem that may inhabit them from eating properly.
Once all the medical procedures passed, the big horn sheep were taken to a horse trailer where they had their legs untied so that they could get inside, to then be taken just outside of Kanab where they would be released to repopulate with the few other big horn sheep in that area.
In this process the big horn sheep were tagged on their ears and given tracking device collars. This will allow other biologists as well as students who are pursuing their careers in the biology field to have some real live data to learn from.
The main purpose for this transplanting is because the population of the big horned sheep in this area is “…a little higher than what we’re comfortable with” said Teresa Griffin, a wildlife biologist.
“We’re balancing out the number of sheep” said Lynn Chamberlain. The vegetation and life offered out near Kanab can support more sheep than the nearby National Parks can.
Not to worry if you think this transplant is coming out of your tax money. There’s a sportsman committee that holds fundraisers and banquets to support projects like this.
For more information see the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Society’s website.
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