The Bighorn Sheep population in Golden live near the highway and are blue-listed as a species at risk. (Meg Langley photo)

The Bighorn Sheep population in Golden live near the highway and are blue-listed as a species at risk. (Meg Langley photo)

Two sheep found dead in Kicking Horse Canyon

Both were killed due to human factors, not natural causes

Two bighorn sheep rams have been found dead in the last month, according to the Golden Rod and Gun Club.

Four sheep have been lost in the last year in total.

The rams were a part of a herd of sheep that call the Kicking Horse Canyon home and can frequently be spotted on the outskirts of town by the highway.

According to Meg Langley, a local biologist who has been studying limiting factors of the herd, the two deaths means there’s only 11 sheep left in the herd, two of which are rams, with one elderly ram and one barely sexually mature.

It leaves the herd in a precarious position if the eldest ram were to pass away, in terms of recruitment and growing the herd.

Langley says she feels there is a duty to protect the sheep, as the majority of the limiting factors to the herd are human caused.

“We know that we know that three were killed by vehicles and the fourth by the train, so all were human things and influences, not natural mortality like predation,” said Langley.

“It does seem that we have the responsibility give that these animals are living tin this area to resolve that conflict somewhat.”

The Golden Rod and Gun club have been monitoring the herd for almost two years now, with five sheep outfitted with collars to monitor herd movement.

READ MORE: Study published on limiting factors of local bighorn sheep

The project will help analyze the movements of the sheep prior to, during and after the ongoing construction in the canyon.

Brian Gustafson, executive director of the Golden Rod and Gun Club, says that losing the sheep is hard, not just on the herd, but on those who are working towards their conservation as well.

“It’s hard to take, we put so much effort and attention into this herd and every death, every loss that we get hits us hard,” said Gustafson.

“It makes us wonder what we’re fighting for, if it’s a lost cause, because we’re all quite passionate about conservation of this small population of sheep and we take it quite personally when we lose a sheep in the canyon.”

Both Langley and Gustafson said that a major limiting factor is vehicles and the sheep’s proximity to the highway, as the animals are drawn to the road from grain spills, salt deposits and pooling water.

While certain areas of the highway have exclusionary fencing meant to keep the sheep out, Langley and Gustafson say it’s not necessarily the best solution.

Langley says the sheep have been known to circumvent the fencing and open gates, while Gustafson said it’s not fair to split the sheep’s habitat and keep them from accessing both sides of the highway.

“We are actively working towards long term solutions for these sheep, knowing that this highway expansion is going to include exclusionary fencing,” said Gustafson.

“We’re actively looking at improving some habitats adjacent to the highway to move this herd in the future.”

Langley says she is also working on increasing the signage along the highway that warns motorists of the presence of the sheep.

She says such signage has been seen to help slow cars and prevent further casualties to the herd.

Wildlife

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Elvira D’Angelo, 92, waits to receive her COVID-19 vaccination shot at a clinic in Montreal, Sunday, March 7, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
110 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Provincial health officers announced 1,005 new cases throughout B.C.

Black Crow Cannabis is just one of Vernon's many pot shops now open in town. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
Kelowna has highest cannabis fees in Okanagan

Vernon’s 14 stores pay second highest business licence fees

The Columbia Valley Wetlands are known for their extensive and fragile ecosystem. (File photo)
Wildsight speaks out against logging in Columbia Wetlands

Located 50 kms south of Golden, the proposed operation was justified as bark beetle management

Residents, especially those with yards with long grass and wooded areas, are encouraged to check themselves and their pets for ticks after being outside. Ticks have reportedly been found in Golden near the pump track. File photo
Ticks found in Golden as spring approaches

Between five and 10 people each year go to hospital in Golden for ticks

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

A North Okanagan man in his late 20s was flown to hospital by air ambulance Saturday, April 17, shortly after 6:30 p.m. after allegedly crashing on his longboard on a Spallumcheen roadway. (File photo)
Suspected longboard crash in Okanagan sends individual to hospital via air ambulance

Accident involved a North Okanagan man in his late 20s on Otter Lake Road in Spallumcheen

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A Kelowna Pride Festival 2019 participant holds up a flag. (Kelowna Pride Society)
Kelowna Pride, RCMP continue to work on ‘Safe Place Program’

A new committee has been formed to refine the ‘Safe Place Program’ created by the Kelowna RCMP

Coldstream Fire Department crews stationed at Kal Lake Provincial Park parking lot on Cosens Bay Road on Sunday, April 18, after a car went over a cliff in the area. (Roger Knox - Morning Star)
Driver escapes after car goes over North Okanagan cliff

The driver has been transported to hospital with unspecified injuries

A strange odour at a West Kelowna apartment building prompted the evacuation of 150 residents on Sunday morning, April 18. (Aaron Hemens - Capital News)
Strange smell at West Kelowna apartment prompts evacuation of 150 residents, pets

150 residents ordered evacuated from a West Kelowna apartment building early Sunday morning

Vernon Vipers goalie Roan Clarke celebrates his team’s 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play shootout win over the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Saturday, April 17, at Kal Tire Place. (Lisa Mazurek - Vernon Vipers Photography)
Vernon Vipers use shootout to subdue Salmon Arm

Snakes score 3-2 B.C. Hockey League pod play win at Kal Tire Place

This is what’s left of a truck that caught fire at Pyramid Provincial Park off Highway 97 near Summerland Saturday night. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Photo Gallery: Truck gutted by fire at popular Okanagan park, trees saved

Just a metal shell of what once was a pick up truck is left at the scene

Most Read