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Bighorn Sheep Capture Plan Available for Review

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Date: December 21, 2007
Contact: Dave Wood, 435-719-2133

The National Park Service is seeking public comments on an environmental assessment (EA) for its proposal to capture and radio collar 19 desert bighorn sheep in Arches and Canyonlands National Parks.

Under the proposal, bighorns would be captured using a net gun deployed from a helicopter. This method has been used very successfully at Canyonlands and Arches over the past sixteen years. Approximately 250 desert bighorn sheep have been captured by net gun, with the death of only three animals due to capture efforts. Net gunning is far safer than darting with drugs, both to the animals and to the handlers.

Captured animals would be examined, tested and treated for disease and parasites, fitted with radio collars, and released. The radio collars allow the NPS to track sheep movements and to locate animals for future monitoring. The capture work will be accomplished cooperatively with the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, in conjunction with similar work on BLM land near the parks.

The capture effort would take place for two or three days during late January or early February, 2008, in an effort to minimize impacts to the animals both physically and socially. This time frame avoids heat stress to animals, the annual rutting period, and sensitive times for lambs and ewes.

The capture area would include Arches National Park, mostly along the Colorado River corridor, and in Canyonlands National Park, the Island in the Sky District, the Maze District (mostly along the Green River), and the Needles District.

The National Park Service has developed an environmental assessment to analyze the impacts of two alternatives, the proposed action and no action.

The NPS welcomes public review and comments on the EA during the public comment period, from December 22, 2007 through January 21, 2008. The park will make a final decision on how to proceed after reviewing comments from the public on the EA. The document is available in electronic format on the internet at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/cany.

Hard copies are available by request from the park at 435-719-2313 or via e-mail. If you wish to comment on the EA, you may post comments online at the above internet address, or mail comments to Canyonlands National Park, Attn: Bighorn Sheep Capture and Collaring EA, 2282 SW Resource Blvd, Moab, UT 84532.

Did You Know?

Collared Lizard

Lizards, including the colorful collared lizard, are one of the most frequently seen animals in Canyonlands. When not chasing flies or basking in the sun, they are often seen doing what appears to be push-ups. Scientists believe this and other behaviors signal dominance and facilitate courtship.