Glacier National Park Calls on Volunteers to Record Bighorn Sheep Behavior

by Amy Myers

Glacier National Park has asked for volunteers to help protect one of the area’s vital and unique species, bighorn sheep. Beginning July 27, the Crown of the Continent Research Learning Center (CCRLC) and biologists from the University of Memphis are recruiting 45 individuals to “identify, classify, and record behavior of bighorn sheep in Glacier National Park this season.”

Glacier National Park is home to one of just two large, native bighorn sheep populations and has multiple loosely connected herds. Excluding Glacier and Yellowstone national parks, Montana has almost 6,000 bighorn sheep, but right now, these populations face a serious threat.

“Bighorn sheep across North America are facing critical disease threats,” Glacier announced in an official release. “Volunteer efforts will help test whether community science and animal behavior can improve disease surveillance and management in National Parks and other wild areas.”

How You Can Help Biologists Keep Record of Bighorn Sheep Behavior in Glacier National Park

Basically, the park and its community science partners need volunteers to help identify any alarming behaviors across Glacier National Park herds. Should they exhibit signs of infection, biologists can take necessary action to ensure to prevent further contamination. The job doesn’t require any certain expertise. In fact, all you’ll need to do is look through a pair of binoculars and take notes while exploring the picturesque national park. Really, it’s the dream job for any Outsider!

“Community science volunteers will gather bighorn sheep behavior data alongside biologists using provided spotting scopes and binoculars,” the release explained.

In order to be successful in your efforts, you’ll need to have the right gear on hand. Luckily, if you’re a regular hiker, you likely have everything you need already.

“Volunteers need to wear typical hiking clothing and bring their own food and water. Hiking distances will be from 5 to 15 miles a day, with the ability to choose preferred hiking locations and dates,” Glacier National Park shared. “Attendance is required at one of the three, one-day trainings being held at the Community Building at park headquarters in West Glacier at 162 Mather Drive. Volunteers are required to complete at least two behavioral surveys within the following week of attending a training session.”

Of course, all of this observation needs to happen from a safe distance for both species. While bighorn sheep in Glacier National Park aren’t aggressive by nature, they do have the ability to take down an attacker or a bystander that has wandered too close.

To register for a training session or for more information, contact CCRLC at (406)-888-7986 or email [email protected]