Bighorn sheep soar through Zion National Park sky; STGnews Videocast

Pilots fly 2 desert big horn sheep to state biologists near Zion National Park, Nov. 23, 2014 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

MT. CARMEL JUNCTION — Due to overpopulation in and around Zion National Park, state biologists have been capturing desert bighorn sheep and releasing them into less populated areas since the early 1970s.

(report continues below)

Videocast by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

Helicopter pilots captured bighorn sheep in the Barracks just outside of Zion National Park Sunday and then transported them a short distance to a group of state biologists to be examined and eventually relocated. They are weighed, measured, and their temperatures monitored. Blood samples are taken to be checked for disease, and nose and throat swabs are taken to be checked for bacteria. Most of the sheep will receive ear tags and tracking device collars for continued study.

A bighorn sheep ready for transport after being assessed and tagged, Nov. 23, 2014 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News
A bighorn sheep ready for transport after being assessed and tagged, Springdale, Utah, Nov. 23, 2014 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

With the high density of big horn sheep in the area, it’s imperative that biologists continue to take steps to regulate the population and keep it at a healthy level.

“We’ve had a pretty aggressive sheep transplant program in Utah,” bighorn sheep biologist Dustin Schaible said. “What we’re trying to do is reestablish them to other historic ranges where the sheep can have little contact with domestic livestock.”

The team of biologists began the sheep transplant program 2 days ago near Hildale, and brought their efforts to Mt. Carmel, located just outside Zion National Park, on Sunday morning.

Where the animals will end up is contingent on the amount of sheep captured through the Department of Natural Resources program. If they capture under 25, the sheep will be brought to Nokai Dome near the San Juan River. If they can catch more than that, the sheep will be brought to Beaver Dam Mountain near St. George. So far, 10 sheep have been captured from the Zion Barracks area, and biologists are hoping to get 15 more.

Biologists and helpers rush to retrieve the 2 bighorn sheep set down by the helicopter, Nov. 23, 2014 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News
Biologists and helpers rush to retrieve the 2 bighorn sheep set down by the helicopter, Mt. Carmel, Utah, Nov. 23, 2014 | Photo by Leanna Bergeron, St. George News

This capture and relocate program happens only once a year in this area. There will be additional captures made in northern Utah in February and January 2015, in which sheep will be transferred from Newfoundland to Oak Creek.

Hunting tag purchases provide the primary funds for the sheep transplant program.

Full Curl Society member Randy Johnson was present to support the project.

“The division and the biologists are doing an incredible job with the wild sheep, getting them re-established and growing population,” Johnson said. “We appreciate their hard work and efforts.”

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9 Comments

  • Burton November 24, 2014 at 10:09 am

    Now this is what tax dollars and license fees are meant for. Great job DWR and if you need volunteers with this or other projects maybe post them to Stgeorgeutah news as well as the dwr website. Thanks for your hard work in protecting our wildlife.

  • Koolaid November 24, 2014 at 10:13 am

    This is what needs to be done with Bundy. Relocate that leech because of the overpopulation of stupid in that area.

    • Remy November 24, 2014 at 1:07 pm

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH! Great Idea!!!!!!!

    • Zonkerb November 24, 2014 at 2:42 pm

      Fundraiser.? to pay for the relocation fee

  • Big Horn Sheep? November 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    i live in apple valley ( our town “backyard” is connected to the zion, springdale backyards too..) i can honestly say, as rural as our home is (we also are only 5 miles to the mouth of zions using 4 wheelers and back trails) I HAVE NEVER SEEN A BIG HORN SHEEP. Other than the coyote i pulled from a trap (it dragged it to my yard) and set free.. I have ONLY seen rattlers and rabbits, well the occasional scorpion and tarantuala (sp?)… I have only spotted ONE deer in the 13 years i have lived here.. i have been to zions a few times, virgin, rockville, the “river”… we have worn our 4 wheeler out… and nope nope nope.. i have never seen a big horn sheep.. this is kind of sad because we are always saying to one another up here, “where are all the wildlife?” guess we know now. This doesn’t make any sense to me what so ever.

  • utahbiller November 24, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    I second KOOLAID!

  • arrowone November 24, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Two sides to the story Koolcat…The Feds changed the rules in mid stream and all those that followed are now out of business. Bundy was in the wrong no doubt but it was brought about by the Feds not obiding by the rules put forth by them.

    • Burton November 24, 2014 at 8:20 pm

      Good luck Arrow, old koolaid there is just another fed loving foot soldier for the BLM. You know, the “bullies of land management”. He works for them. That’s why he hates Bundy or anybody who isn’t in love with big government.

  • MmmBacon November 24, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    transport them to the grand canyon. There needs to be something to feed all the lonely starving wolf there. (1 wolf for now)

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