South Dakota: Big horn sheep near Cleghorn Fish Hatchery
January 7, 2011
RAPID CITY, SD – Motorists who see big horn sheep near Cleghorn Springs Fish Hatchery in Rapid City (SD) will glimpse a rare and breathtaking display of nature, but should also be aware of other drivers.
“This time of year, many of our resident big horn sheep come down from the higher elevations to breed,” said John Kanta, state Department of Game Fish and Parks regional game manager for western South Dakota. “Unfortunately many of the animals congregate on or near the road around the fish hatchery. We are just reminding motorists to slow down when traveling that area.”
The sheep tend to gather on a stretch of Highway 44 west from Cleghorn Canyon to the top of the hill. Motorists are encouraged to drive slower than the posted speed limit. While traveling that area, also be aware of stopped vehicles and watch for pedestrians looking at the animals or photographing them.
“We park the stocking truck with strobe lights on the road when we chase the sheep out of the hatchery at 3:30 p.m.,” said Cleghorn Springs Hatchery Manager Will Sayler. “We often have someone waving an orange flag to caution traffic, and many people still don’t slow down. We want people to enjoy seeing these amazing animals, but we also need all motorists to be aware of what is going on in the area and slow down.”
Big horn sheep are native to western South Dakota, but were wiped out in the state by hunters and disease in the early 1900s. Big horns were re-introduced in the 1920s; about 450 of the animals currently are found in the Black Hills and Badlands National Park.