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Sam Penrod Reporting Utah's wild sheep herds got a big boost today. Fifty-five big horn sheep from Montana were transplanted to Utah.
After spending the last 24 hours in this trailer, these female big horn sheep were set free, released to roam Utah's mountains after being captured yesterday near Missoula, Montana.
Craig Clyde, Biologist, Division of Wildlife Resources: "We drove all night to get them out of the trailer as fast as we could and get them on the mountain and eating grass with the population that is already here."
A total of 55 sheep were released today in American Fork Canyon, Rock Canyon, east of Provo and on Mount Nebo. The sheep were first transplanted in 2001, but the herds needed a boost.
Craig Clyde, Biologist, Division of Wildlife Resources: "They did really well for the first couple of years and then we haven't had a lot of production since then and we'd like to increase the herd up to about 200, there's probably about 40 here now."
The sheep being released today have radio trackers, so wildlife biologists will know where they are at. Researchers are interested to know if these sheep will go to the same area as other sheep transplanted from Colorado.
Justin Shannon, Wildlife Researcher: "They released sheep here about six years ago and released them on the ‘g' at pleasant grove and they all ran to this canyon, so we are getting sheep from different habitats, from Montana and Colorado, we'll release them and see if they use the same habitats."
Wildlife enthusiasts are very excited, because watching big horn sheep with binoculars or a spotting scope is a popular way to enjoy the outdoors.
Justin Shannon, Wildlife Researcher: "It's fun to hike up there and get a peek at them, every now and then. I think it makes the mountain areas more active."
All of the sheep released today are ewes, and most of them should produce new lambs this spring, adding even more bighorn sheep in Utah's rocky hills.
The Sheep were purchased from Montana by the Utah chapter of the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep, a local sportsman's organization.