Vanishing Bighorns seeks to bring attention to the plight of the Bighorn Sheep in the Kicking Horse Canyon. (Art Gallery of Golden photo)

Vanishing Bighorns seeks to bring attention to the plight of the Bighorn Sheep in the Kicking Horse Canyon. (Art Gallery of Golden photo)

Art Gallery of Golden presents ‘Vanishing Bighorns’

The exhibit is seeking to raise awareness for the shrinking herd of Bighorn Sheep that are in Golden

The Art Gallery of Golden is presenting a group art show entitled ‘Vanishing Bighorns’, an exhibit with a purpose of providing a reminder of the challenges that wildlife face when trying to co-exist with unmans.

The exhibit features artwork by Denys Bardarson, Brenda Bernat, Gale Berndt, Janis Dyck, Denise English, Regan Johnston, Irina Kruglyakova, Martin Olson, Sarah Osadetz, Marty Ryan, Krys Sikora, Phyllis Twa, Trina Wolfenden and James Zimmer.

Concept, research and project coordination was handled by Meg Langley, a local biologist who has been studying the herd for years now, and last year published a study on the limiting factors of the herd.

According to Langley’s study from Feb. 22, 2021, bighorn sheep are not native to the area, with records of one or two cropping up throughout the ‘70s before the herd permanently took up residence by the highway in 1986. She says the herd was originally about 50 strong.

Over the years, the population has dwindled to just 14, with highway mortality and human influence being one of the lead causes of the thinning of the herd.

By March 2021, four sheep had already been killed that year alone.

READ MORE: Study published on limiting factors of bighorn sheep

‘Vanishing Bighorns’ has brought together 14 professional and amateur artists to create portraits of each of the 14 members of the small herd of Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.

Each artist was provided with 8-10 photographs and some video footage of “their” bighorn sheep plus relevant dates and personality aspects and asked to create a portrait of this animal.

They could use any medium and any size for their work.

Artists received an honorarium provided by the Kootenay Columbia Cultural Alliance, the Columbia Basin Trust and the Columbia Shuswap Regional District-Area A.

“While these remarkable animals have learned to coexist with the Trans Canada Highway and all it offers, including food, minerals, water and travel routes, the sheep have not learned how to live when hit by a car or truck or train.,” said Langley.

“The recent highway construction has contributed to at least two deaths and to some changes in historic habitat use.

“In a call to learn about the plight of these and other bighorn sheep which coexist with highways while drawing attention to the amazing talent found in this area, we invite you to Stop in and See the Sheep!”

The show will run until Feb. 18. The art gallery is open Monday through Saturday, between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m., and is closed on Sundays.

More information about the bighorn sheep and the Wildsight Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Project can be found at www.wildsight.ca/goldensheep.

Wildlife