9 Dec 2007, 1:22pm
Latest Wildlife News
by admin

Truck plows through bighorn sheep

THOMPSON FALLS, Mont. (AP) — At least 25 bighorn sheep lapping up salt-based de-icer on Montana Highway 200 have been struck and killed by vehicles this year, including seven struck by one semitrailer east of here earlier this month.

Witnesses told Bruce Sterling, a wildlife biologist with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks, that the truck’s brake lights never came on as it passed a readerboard asking drivers to slow down because sheep congregate on that part of the highway and that 18 had already been killed this year.

The trailerless semi slammed into the herd, killing at least seven sheep, cutting some in half, Sterling said. Others may have been fatally injured, but wandered away before dying, Sterling said…

In an effort to reduce sheep deaths, which have topped 350 since Sterling began keeping records in 1985, FWP has tried putting salt blocks out away from the highway, with little success.

“Salt is a natural mineral the sheep routinely seek out,” Sterling says, “and finding it on the road has become a learned behavior over the course of many years. It’s difficult to put salt blocks out and expect them to find it.”

They’ve fired cracker shells near the herd, and the loud explosion works — for about a half hour.

Then they’re back, licking up the de-icer again.

“Our saving grace is that the sheep aren’t active at night,” Sterling says. “They go up into the cliffs to bed down at night. If they were down on the road at night, I don’t know if we’d have any left.”… [more]

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