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Be careful of Bighorn Sheep in Avalanche Creek area

Daily Staff Report
Vail CO, Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. – The message the Forest Service wants people to remember for Avalanche Creek this winter is simple. Respect the area’s bighorn sheep.

Since 1993, the White River National Forest in cooperation with the Colorado Division of Wildlife has enacted winter closures at Avalanche Creek to protect bighorn sheep. Located nine miles south of Carbondale in the Crystal River Valley, Forest Service Road 310 in Avalanche Creek is closed to vehicles. The area north of Road 310 is also closed to human occupancy and the entire area is closed to dogs. The closure is in effect from November 15 to May 1.

“The low elevation, light snow-pack, terrain that facilitates quick escape and presence of winter forage are key elements of bighorn sheep winter habitat.” said Phil Nyland, a wildlife biologist with the Aspen-Sopris District. “The seasonal closure is designed to provide a refuge for bighorn sheep during this critical period.”

The area effected is a favorite place for snowshoe and cross-country ski use and the public is being asked to comply with the closure to keep from disturbing the sheep. “Research shows that even what appear to be small reactions by sheep to people, traffic, and dogs cause impacts over a period of months in terms of raised stress levels, increased metabolism and decreased food intake,” said Nyland.

People who comply with the order and stay on the Avalanche Creek Road may catch a glimpse of the bighorn sheep. Also, Filoha Meadows along Highway 133 and the area north of Thompson Creek are places where the sheep may be seen.

“Whether or not you see bighorn sheep at Avalanche Creek, the closure is still in effect and there are ample signs to warn visitors,” said Irene Davidson, Aspen-Sopris District Ranger. The area is jointly patrolled by the Forest Service and DOW.

For additional information contact John Groves, Carbondale District Wildlife Manager for the Colorado Division of Wildlife at 947-2933 or Pitkin County Open Space Director Dale Will at 920-5355.


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