New experiences this week have included holding down a bighorn sheep, scrambling to avoid being rammed by said sheep in a trailer and driving across Alberta, Canada, as reporter David Hendee and I follow a group of friendly and dedicated USDA veterinarians, wildlife biologists and others from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission.
After about a year or preparation, a caravan from the commission drove north and west for nearly 24 hours to Hinton, Alberta, a town on the eastern foothills of the Canadian Rockies. Their mission was to net close to 40 bighorns, collect blood and tissue samples, and then transport them back to Nebraska to create a new herd west of Fort Robinson State Park.
This task might seem easy, but watch the video below to get an idea of how chaotic the net drop and ensuing capture was.
So why all of the fuss? The commission has been tasked with managing wildlife resources for the state of Nebraska, where bighorns are considered an at-risk species. This batch of sheep will create a fifth herd near Fort Robinson State Park in western Nebraska.
“We want to let people treat them with respect and be appreciative of the fact that they were once here. We’ve been given the opportunity to bring them back,” District Wildlife Manager Todd Nordeen said.
I know that I, for one, will certainly appreciate them when I get the opportunity to see them in my home state.
But for now, we continue on down the road on our way to the release site near Harrison. As we follow the four wildlife trailers containing 41 sheep, I’ll be Tweeting through Montana, Wyoming and into Nebraska at @OWHalyssa. Follow staff writer David Hendee’s Tweets @OWHDavidHendee. And see more images from the capture and journey in this photo showcase.