CREEDE, Colo. – One thousand ewes, with lambs by their sides, will be spending time on the Rio Grande National Forest south and west of Creede this summer grazing under a new pasture rotation.

“We are working to solve a natural resource conflict between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep on Snow Mesa,” said Divide District Ranger Martha Williamson. “Grazing domestic sheep in these areas south of Creede maintains sheep grazing on the Forest, helps to more effectively separate bighorn and domestic sheep, and keeps the permittees in business.”

This new grazing rotation is being used for domestic sheep that are currently permitted to graze on the Snow Mesa Allotment. Research has indicated that domestic sheep may spread disease to bighorn sheep. There are concerns regarding potential disease transmission between domestic and bighorn sheep on Snow Mesa Allotment due to the close proximity of both species.

Domestic sheep, herders, horses, and livestock guard dogs will be especially visible to the public while they are moved along Highway 149 and graze along the Deep Creek and Middle Creek roads.

The sheep will be trucked to Coller State Wildlife Area on July 6 and then trailed (moved by herders and dogs) five days later along Highway 149 to pasture at East Bench for a short time. They will then be trailed along the Deep Creek Road to pasture in the 6-Mile Flats area where the ewes and lambs will need to cross Highway 149 daily to access water.

Next, the sheep will be trailed to the South River area where they will be pastured for three weeks between Marshall Park and Ivy Creek campgrounds. The sheep will then spend the rest of the summer in the north Shallow Creek and Crystal Lakes areas before trailing back to Coller State Wildlife Area in early September on their way back home across the valley floor.

For more information, contact Divide District Ranger Martha Williamson at 719-657-3321.