At this time of year it’s not only the mule deer that are easy to find. Desert Bighorn Sheep are now easy to spot along the Hwy 9 route to the east side of Zion National Park. Bighorn are sometimes called a “wilderness species” because they require some of the most remote and protected areas in the West. Today, you may be lucky enough to see a bighorn, but this has not always been the case, for Zion’s bighorn history is a tumultuous one.
Zion has long been home to bighorn. They are well depicted in prehistoric petroglyphs and were often seen in the early days of European settlement. Here’s an interactive panorama showing an ancient petroglyph found near the location of where I shot the video. Imagine hunters sitting under this cliff after a day of stalking bighorn creating a permanent reminder of their hunt on a wall of sandstone.
Left Click and hold/drag to move the panorama below in any direction. You can also make it go FullScreen by Right Clicking and selecting Fullscreen.
However, combined stresses from human presence let to there extinction in Zion in the 1950’s. Their historic range lay vacant for over 20 years until the 1970’s when bighorn were returned to the park through an intensive reintroduction program. Only 12 bighorn were brought to Zion to re-establish the population, and despite the odds, they have prospered and the population is now estimated to over 150 individuals.
Zion’s Adopt a Bighorn Program