Region 2 of Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks has seen a rise in bighorn sheep-vehicle collisions, with seven bighorns killed in the last week. The tally includes five along Highway 200 east of Bonner, one in Lower Rock Creek and one on Highway 93 near the East Fork of the Bitterroot. Fortunately, no human injuries were reported.
FWP Region 2 Wildlife Biologist, Vickie Edwards, says that bighorn sheep have a small habitat niche that often is bisected by road systems and residential and agricultural development. “These areas may not be wildlife crossings per se, but are within year-round, core habitat for bighorn sheep, with bighorns attracted to roadways for salt and irrigated pastures and lawns for green vegetation,” says Edwards.
Also, bighorn sheep adapt quickly to vehicular activity and are not always wary of traffic, especially young lambs. “Tall grasses along roadways make it challenging for motorists to see adult bighorn sheep, let alone lambs of the year that may dart in front of oncoming traffic,” Edwards says.
Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks urges motorists to use caution in areas with bighorn sheep and to anticipate bighorns emerging onto roadways without warning. Motorists in Region 2 may encounter bighorn sheep along the East Fork of the Bitterroot, Highway 93 south of Darby, Skalkaho Road, Highway 1 near Anaconda, Petty Creek Road, Highway 200 along the Blackfoot River and Rock Creek.
(Report by Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks; Cover photo: flickr.com)