Bighorn sheep migrate, begin mating rituals on the National Elk Refuge: Best ways to view the action

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Each winter, nearly 100 bighorn sheep migrate to the National Elk Refuge, making the Elk Refuge Road a popular destination to view the wildlife. On top of the migration, November and December are the months where the animals begin their mating rituals, which include male posturing and rivalries. Here are three tips for viewing the bighorn sheep:: *1. Use the Vehicle Pullouts:* If you have lived in Jackson for any amount of time, then you have seen cars stop in the middle of the road to view wildlife. This is discouraged everywhere, but especially on the Elk Refuge Road because of the icy conditions, and the pedestrians, cars, bikes and wildlife that use the road. "An important thing to note is that we added a number of additional pullouts this summer. We did an extensive road improvement project with safety being the primary consideration," said Lori Iverson, outreach and visitor services for the National Elk Refuge. *2. Don't Let the Sheep Lick Your Car:* Many of the pictures you see of the bighorn sheep are of them licking the salt off of cars, but this isn't good for the animals. "The sheep can be fairly aggressive in going up to vehicles and trying to lick the vehicle," said Iverson. "Some people don't try to discourage it, but think about the chemicals that are probably on your vehicle that the sheep are ingesting." Elk Refuge officials recommend that the public discourages this licking by very slowing driving through the herds of animals. *3. Keep a Safe Distance:* These sheep may look friendly, especially as they approach your vehicle, but remember that they are mating and more aggressive during this time of year. Mating rituals for bighorn sheep include posturing and butting horns. "You may see some rivalry between males this time of year, so it is all the more important for people to keep a safe distance and try not to interfere with the interactions between the animals," Iverson added. [image: Inline image 1] *Courting, Bighorn Sheep Style: Two male bighorn sheep exhibit the flehmen response, where males inhale with their mouth open and upper lip curled to better gather the scent of breeding females. Often, they will also stretch their neck and hold their head high. h/t Lori Iverson / USFWS / Pitchengine Communities* The Elk Refuge doesn't have a distance restriction for wildlife, but asks that people use common sense. *Feature Photo: h/t @fightingextinction on Instagram ( ) / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news