Wildlife Officials to Move Bighorn Sheep

BOULDER CITY, Nev. (AP) - Wildlife officials are hoping to round up about 25 desert bighorn sheep from Boulder City and move them elsewhere as officials worry about a growing herd known to disrupt highway traffic, drink from park water fountains and use sidewalks as bathrooms.

Scott Hansen, Boulder City's director of public works, said the herd is as large as he's seen it in roughly 10 years, as many as 80 at times during the summer.

The city's Hemenway Park is a popular hangout for the animals because of its grass and close proximity to the River Mountains.

Hansen says city officials are concerned with traffic safety, as not only are sheep crossing Highway 93, an increasing number of drivers are pulling over or slowing down to take photos of the herd.

Doug Nielsen, spokesman for the Nevada Department of Wildlife, said the department plans to count the herd by helicopter in the next two weeks and round up some sheep in October.

Lance Flanagan, who lives near the park beside a slope where the sheep often sleep, said the animals are entertaining.

"Over the weekend, my wife and I were out on our porch watching the sheep. The police were out there all along the road going down to the lake, and they actually had to scare them away, put their sirens on and scare them away from the road," Flanagan said. "They ran them almost right up to our house."

Nielsen said wildlife officials don't want to take away too many animals at once. He said residents have conflicting views about the animals, with some feeling the sheep are a nuisance but others becoming angry anytime the sheep are forcibly moved.

"We don't want to be too aggressive about it," Nielsen said. "We want to manage that population as a healthy, viable herd."

The animals are part of an even larger herd of more than 200 adults. Its traditional range has tightened with housing developments and roads.

Information from: Las Vegas Review-Journal, http://www.lvrj.com

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)