Public Urged to Drive with Caution with Bighorn Sheep Present
PIERRE, S.D. – Last month, the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks’ (GFP) released 26 bighorn sheep in the high country near Deadwood. In the past two weeks, some of the herd has repeatedly traveled down and around roadways which, at times, has caused them to be a potential hazard to travelers.
“It is not unusual for bighorn sheep to travel near and around roadways in search of salt,” stated Mike Kintigh, regional supervisor out of the Rapid City GFP office. “We expected them to be visible to travelers and area residents. We also anticipated that during this time of year they would drop down near or on the plowed roadways to catch a break from snow cover.”
Roadways where bighorn sheep are expected to travel and cross include Highway 385, from the top of Strawberry Hill down through Deadwood and Highway 14A (Boulder Canyon) from Radio Tower Road through Deadwood and Lead.
“We appreciate the public’s concern for this new herd as we have received daily phone calls and emails about their visibility in the area. We want travelers and residents to be aware that our staff continue to monitor them very closely and that we will do our best to keep them from being a potential hazard on roadways,” stated Kintigh.
Prior to the release of this herd, GFP officials worked closely with local and state partners to inform area residents of the herd’s presence in their community. Work continues with officials from the South Dakota Department of Transportation (SDDOT) to install permanent caution signs with flashing lights at the above mentioned roadways to warn motorists that bighorn sheep may be present. In the meantime, GFP is working with SDDOT to install temporary signs.
“These are wild animals and are not confined to a pen. Individuals traveling these roadways are reminded to drive with caution and please be patient as these majestic creatures search to find their permanent home in South Dakota,” concluded Kintigh.