Have you ever seen Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in the Kicking Horse Canyon? Have you ever wondered about them? You are not alone! It is not at all rare to see these sheep on or near the TransCanada Highway #1. Their presence is a safety hazard: cars slow down to look or try to avoid hitting an animal; drivers stop, honk at, and occasionally hit the sheep.
Nevertheless, the sheep persist. The story of the Golden herd of bighorn sheep is an interesting look at survival of wildlife which coexist with a major freeway, live in close proximity to a town, and occupy a relatively small and extremely rugged area.
Phase 4 of the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure’s TransCanada highway widening project is happening and the associated disturbance and alterations to sheep habitat could further jeopardize the herd.
In hopes of helping the sheep survive, Wildsight Golden began the Golden Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Project in January of 2019.
The key recommendations of the study follow:
Alter fencing to allow access to critical winter and spring ranges without entering highway corridor.
Alter one-way gates and jump-outs to impede two-way use: Watch EwesGoingAgainstGate2
Improve winter and spring range quality by cultivating highly digestible and high-protein shrubs, forbs and grasses and removing invasive weeds and garbage
Document sources of required minerals within the study area and ensure access to mineral licks without entering highway corridor.
Create level to slightly sloping travel routes for sheep and other wildlife to use to move east to west through the canyon.
Ensure lambing area immediately west of Yoho bridge experiences limited to no disturbance from May 10 to July 30, annually Watch
Install speeding cameras and lighted signage in the canyon near areas of high use by bighorn sheep.
Place movable signage on Hwy 93/95 used during traffic diversion periods based on wildlife locations data.
The study was presented at the 22nd symposium of the Northern Wild sheep and Goat Council and published in 2021. The presentation is below:
In 2018, Wildsight Golden’s Sheep Project began a long-term study to evaluate the cortisol levels in the sheep before, during and after highway construction. Cortisol is correlated with stress levels.
To bring attention to the sheep and related concerns, Wildsight Golden organized the “Vanishing Bighorns” art show in 2021. This show brings pieces created by 14 artists, each of who created a portrait of one member of the Golden bighorn herd as it was in 2019. We have created a permanent exhibition which can be seen CLICK HERE TO SEE THE ART with more details below.
The show went to Invermere: Vanishing Bighorns Exhibit Comes to Invermere
Wildsight Golden is looking for volunteers to help with this project! You can help us know where animals are and where they cross the roads by learning to recognize different ungulates (animals with hooves) and sharing locations on your smart phone.
- Download the free app “GAIA GPS Hiking, Offroad Maps” onto your smart phone and make a folder.
- Invite email@example.com to share the folder.
- You can then create a titled waypoint where you see wildlife, dead or alive, from Highway #1 or Highway 95. Note when and what you saw and save it in the folder.
- Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for help getting set up, any other questions or to share a sighting verbally.
- Click here for a review of WILDLIFE YOU MIGHT SEE
Learn more about Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in B.C or watch some sheep videos here
Support the Radium sheep herd Act now: Save Radium’s Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep
Behaviours and indicators you might see:
Please read about our Vanishing Bighorn Art Exhibit here.
And at the Art Gallery of Golden here.
See our Bighorn Sheep video produced for the Comedy Show here.
We would like to thank our supporters and funding partners: