JUNE 24, 2015

View bighorn sheep on Canyon Lake boat tour with AZGFD biologists

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bighorn sheepAPACHE JUNCTION – The Arizona Game and Fish Department is offering a unique opportunity to view one of Arizona's most iconic arid land animals, the desert bighorn sheep, on two separate 3-hour morning boat tours on Canyon Lake. One will be held on Saturday, June 27, the other on Sunday, June 28.

This program is a bit different than the workshop and boat tour offered by the department earlier this month. The groups will be smaller, allowing more interaction with the biologists leading the tour. Participants will board department work boats to explore the canyons and bluffs of this scenic lake in search of these spectacular animals. The biologists aboard each of the boats will share and interpret bighorn behavior and biology during the trip.  

Due to limited space on the boats, attendance must be restricted to 22 people per tour. Cost will be $50 per person.  

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 this time of year. This is an excellent opportunity to view, photograph, and enjoy bighorn sheep in their native environment.

"Though it may not be the most comfortable time to be outdoors, this is best time of year to see bighorn sheep," said Joe Yarchin, Watchable Wildlife Program Coordinator. "Sheep stay close to water during June/July and since the mating season is still underway, we occasionally see rams fighting or chasing ewes. But the thing I enjoy most is watching lambs born earlier in the year cavorting around near their mothers; their agility is a marvel."

The tour will leave the Palo Verde boat launch area at 7 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday (parking is at the Acacia Recreation Area; a $6 Tonto Day Pass is required to park there). The tour will head up the lake toward the dam to look for sheep. In addition to bighorn sheep, other wildlife such as bald eagles, herons, and a variety of waterfowl are often seen. The area is also home to deer, mountain lions, javelina and numerous small mammals, birds, and reptiles.

To register, call Joe Yarchin at 623-236-7589 at the Phoenix office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department during office hours (8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday). Please send checks or money orders made out to the Arizona Game and Fish Department to Joe Yarchin, Arizona Game and Fish Department, 5000 W. Carefree Highway, Phoenix, Arizona 85086. Payment must be received prior to attending the tour.

For additional information, please contact Randy Babb at the Mesa Office of the Arizona Game and Fish Department at 480-466-1334 or rbabb@azgfd.gov.