Bighorn sheep disappearing from Pikes Peak
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado ” Bighorn sheep populations are down on the western slopes of Pikes Peak, and the state has imposed hunting limits for the herd that has delighted tourists for decades.
Recent counts found about 150 bighorn in the area, down from more than 300 in the late 1990s, according to the state Division of Wildlife. The agency has limited slim rifle hunting allowances to five males and no females.
The herd is one of two in the region. The other is in the Rampart Range foothills northwest of Colorado Springs.
Agency officials don’t know why the numbers are down.
“It could be a simple matter of observation errors, but to rather be safe than sorry, they took the (hunting) action they needed to just in case the observations are correct,” said division spokesman Michael Seraphin.
The Pikes Peak herd spends its summers on the peak near the cog railway and Pikes Peak Highway. It winters in the Dome Rock State Wildlife Area.
Bighorn sheep counts have dropped in the West, from 1.5 million a century ago to about 70,000 today. Disease, habitat loss and hunting are the main reasons, conservation groups say.