Friday, September 25, 2009

Bighorn Sheep

Between mile markers four and six on the East Fork Road in Sula is a good place to see bighorn sheep. The grassy hillsides above the roadway are supposed to be ideal habitat for them, but most of the times I've seen them here, they've been right in the road.

These are all ewes or immature rams. Only the adult rams have the large, curled horns, while the horns on the ewes and the immature rams are short and only partially curved. Hunters that draw a bighorn ewe license in Montana's lottery system have to make very sure they do not illegally shoot a young ram. The only way to ensure they target a ewe is to get a good look at the sheep's business.

I once saw a mature ram standing in the middle of the East Fork Road, but I didn't have my camera with me. He stood and stared blankly at me as I slowly drove around him. I took it as brave defiance, but now I have come to understand that bighorn sheep may not be the most intelligent of wildlife species.

The East Fork sheep habitat, which includes the Broad Axe Lodge and Restaurant at around mile 5.5 of the East Fork Road, has been designated a Wildlife Viewing Area. The Broad Axe has large windows that overlook the hillsides, and they will lend you binoculars to scan for sheep while you eat.

1 comment:

  1. beat me to it...I was going to say that those sheep didn't have very big horns. Loving the blog...keep it up!