ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK, Utah – Fifteen rams soared through the skies over Antelope Island Friday.
The animals are being relocated to the mountains east of Oak City, Utah to help increase that area’s ram population.
“What we’ve monitored out here is we are high in number in rams – male sheep – so we’d like to pull some of those rams off the island,” said Eric D. Anderson, a biologist with the Division of Wildlife Resources.
The DWR contracted an outside company to capture the animals and then fly them dangling from a helicopter to a staging area. There, the rams receive a thorough medical examination.
“We check a lot of vitals, measurements, we age them, we test for diseases and then we load them up and ship them off to their new home,” Anderson said.
After their examination, the rams are loaded on to a truck where they will be driven to their new home. This process is done to even out the population of Bighorn Sheep across the state.
“It gives us a source to help other sheep populations throughout the state that might be struggling a little bit,” Anderson said.
It also prevents the ram population from getting too big and causing a strain on Antelope Island’s natural resources.
“For bighorn sheep, there’s not any migration on and off of the island,” Anderson said. “So the habitat, the vegetation—that’s food, water and shelter resources—can be limited to how many animals are on the island. So if you get too many, that can start impacting population numbers.”
Moving the sheep takes hours to complete, but the DWR believes it’s a small price to pay to help these animals flourish across Utah.
“It belongs to the citizens of Utah,” Anderson said. “And as stewards of the wildlife, it’s our responsibility to maintain those populations on the landscape."
The DWR plans to move fifteen more rams on January 14th.