Wildlife capture operation planned in San Luis Valley
Some of the operation could occur in the South San Juan Wilderness and the Rio Grande National Forest has given the agency permission to fly a helicopter into the area.
Radio collars will be put on six sheep in the ongoing effort to learn about their movement patterns in the area. Wildlife managers will be able to collect information from the collars for three years or more, depending on how long the batteries last.
Bighorns and domestic sheep are susceptible to the same diseases. By learning about bighorn movements Colorado Parks and Wildlife can work to keep distance between wild bighorns and domestic sheep.
"Our goal is to understand how to best manage our bighorn populations," said Stephanie Ferrero, terrestrial biologist in the San Luis Valley.
There are three distinct bighorn populations in the South San Juan Mountains. Colorado Parks and Wildlife started to study the bighorns in 2012 to determine why the population of one of the herds is in decline.
Users of the national forest might notice a low-flying helicopter in the area during the first two weeks of January. The flights, however, will take place in remote areas and disturbance to recreational users will be minimal. No flights are planned on holidays and weekends.
Partners with CPW on the project include the U.S. Forest Service and the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Society.
For more information about Rocky Mountain bighorns, go to cpw.state.co.us.