“Bighorns are in the rut this time of year, so they’re less wary of people,” Brent Stettler, regional conservation outreach manager for the DWR, said in a news release this week.
It’s easier to observe the sheep and they will often allow vehicles to get closer than usual during rut season because the animals are focused on courtship and breeding, Stettler said.
In past years, participants have been able to see the sheep from as close as 50 yards, DWR officials said. Occasionally, participants have had the opportunity to see bighorn rams butt heads, but most of the time members of the group watch large rams kick and harass smaller males, Stettler said.
“The ewes and lambs seem relatively uninterested in the harassment,” he said.
Stettler said the chance to view the annual mating ritual is an experience not to be missed.
“The opportunity to see the courtship behavior of these animals is worth the trip,” he said.
The Dec. 7 watch will take place along an eight-mile stretch of road alongside the Green River, about 40 miles northwest of Moab.
Those wishing to participate should meet at 8 a.m. at the John Wesley Powell Museum parking lot, 1765 E. Main St. in Green River. From the parking lot, the group will caravan to the river road. The road is asphalt, gravel and packed dirt and is suitable for passenger cars, except after a rain or snow storm, DWR officials said.
The event is offered free of charge and no registration is required. Participants are asked to bring binoculars, a spotting scope and a camera, if they have them. Stettler will have extra spotting scopes and binoculars to lend for those who don’t have their own.
Participants who prefer not to drive to the site can arrange a ride with DWR personnel, according to the news release.
Dressing for cold weather is advised, Stettler said.
“Wear warm clothing,” Stettler said. “And bring water and snacks, or a lunch.”
Because bighorn sheep are wild and unpredictable, Stettlersaid he cannot guarantee participants will see sheep.
”Regardless of the outcome, the beauty of the Green River will make the trip worthwhile,” he said.
For more information, call Stettler at 435-613-3707, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.