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21 bighorn sheep go for a helicopter ride near Pikes Peak

Colorado Parks and Wildlife hopes to rebuild a historic herd in a remote area southwest of Pikes Peak.

VICTOR, Colorado — Nearly two dozen bighorn sheep are waking up in a new home after being moved to a remote part of Colorado.

Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) captured, trucked and airlifted 21 bighorn sheep from Colorado Springs to a canyon near Victor, southwest of Pikes Peak.

The operation took place Tuesday when the bighorn sheep were captured from the Rampart herd near Colorado Springs, according to CPW. The sheep were trucked to Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area north of Cañon City and flown by helicopter to Beaver Creek Canyon near Victor.

CPW officer Bob Carochi said the goal of the project is to rebuild a historic herd in Beaver Creek Canyon, where disease has caused sheep numbers to crash. Carochi said an influx of healthy Rampart herd sheep will bring genetic diversity to the canyon.

CPW said they began to bait the bighorn sheep three weeks ago under a net. Then Tuesday, the net dropped and a team of about 60 biologists, wildlife officers, veterinarians, staff and volunteers worked to bind their legs together and give them blindfolds to calm them.

CPW said the bighorn sheep that were deemed healthy and the right age and sex were loaded, while others were released. Some sheep were ear-tagged and others were fitted for collars with radio transmitters.

Once loaded onto blue tarps with handles for carrying, the captured sheep were assessed and taken for a two-hour truck ride to the airlift site in Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

CPW teams from Salida and Cañon City led the effort to bundle the bighorn sheep in travel bags while keeping them in the proper flying position.

A ten-minute helicopter flight to the remote Beaver Creek Canyon saved time over what could have been a two-hour hike, said CPW.

After the sheep were placed on the ground, crews on the ground released the animals, who scampered out to explore their new home.

Credit: Colorado Parks and Wildlife

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