By Stan Bush
GEORGETOWN, Colo. (CBS4)- There is no better place in the world to see bighorn sheep than Georgetown. They are the official state animal, but there’s increasing worry that Colorado may be ruining the rams’ home.
“We might get a clash here,” said an onlooking Ben Kraft, a biologist with Colorado Parks and Wildlife whose job it is to track the state’s bighorn sheep population.
“It’s a native herd to Colorado. This herd has always been in Colorado since the Colombian period.”
The herd in Georgetown may be one of our greatest connections to the past. Kraft says it has survived since the last Ice Age, but with rapid development throughout the Rockies, game managers are becoming increasingly nervous about their survival.
“We are trying to wisely manage their habitat to make sure it isn’t lost or degraded because of our actions.”
Last week CPW released their limit for ram hunting licenses — 18 total — down from roughly 50 just 20 years ago. Their mission to manage the population has never been more critical for a defiant and dominant species that defines the American West.
“They are a symbol of a more pristine wild environment that Colorado and North America has to offer,” said Kraft.
This weekend is Georgetown’s annual bighorn sheep festival. Game managers hope it will raise more awareness to help with long term conservation.