Register to see bighorn sheep on Canyon Lake - Tucson News Now

Register to see bighorn sheep on Canyon Lake

(Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department) (Source: Arizona Game and Fish Department)
TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering two unique opportunities to view one of Arizona’s most iconic arid land animals, the desert bighorn sheep, in an intimate, small-group setting July 1 and 2 on Canyon Lake.

Participants ages 10 and older will board department work boats to explore the canyons and bluffs of this scenic lake in search of these spectacular animals. Biologists aboard each of the boats will share and interpret bighorn conservation, behavior and biology during the trip. Due to limited space on the boat, attendance is restricted to 22 people per tour.

“Mating season will be underway and there is a good chance of seeing rams fighting or chasing ewes, which makes it an excellent opportunity to view, photograph and enjoy bighorns in their natural environment,” said Randy Babb, AZGFD watchable wildlife program manager. “Because sheep stay close to the water during June and July, participants may also watch young lambs cavorting around their mothers, displaying their masterful agility in precarious locations.”

Register here for the bighorn sheep workshop

Game Management Units 22 and 24B are home to some of the largest bighorn rams found anywhere in North America. Canyon Lake forms the border between these two administrative areas and animals from both areas congregate near the lake’s shore at this time of year.

In addition to bighorn sheep, bald eagles, herons, and a variety of waterfowl are often seen. The area is also home to a myriad of other wildlife including deer, mountain lions, javelina and numerous small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

The tour departs the Palo Verde Recreation Area at 7 a.m. and participants will need an $8 Tonto Pass for each vehicle parked at the lake. Tonto Passes are available at a variety of convenience markets and sporting goods stores around the Phoenix Metro area or from the Tonto National Forest Mesa Ranger District Office at 5140 E. Ingram Street in Mesa.

Each boat will have an ice chest for the participants to use. It is recommended that participants bring a wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, sunscreen and wear a long-sleeve shirt and long pants to prevent sunburn as the boats do not have canopies.

The cost is $75 per person and participants can pay online via credit card or by check or money order. For more information or to register, contact Joe Yarchin 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at (623) 236-7589 or jyarchin@azgfd.gov.  

For additional information, contact Randy Babb at the department’s Mesa regional office at (480) 466-1334 or rbabb@azgfd.gov.

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