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Fort Robinson, Wildcat Hills offer bighorn sheep viewing events

Bighorn sheep jumping fence
A bighorn sheep ewe jumps a fence in the Wildcat Hills south of McGrew. (NEBRASKAland/Justin Haag)

CHADRON, Neb. – Two Panhandle parks are offering special opportunities to view the state’s best climbers – bighorn sheep.

The hikes, which each begin at 9 a.m., will be Friday, July 13, at Fort Robinson State Park west of Crawford and Saturday, July 14, at the Wildcat Hills Nature Center south of Gering.

Participants will gather at the parks and caravan to the sheep’s present range with the aid of Nebraska Game and Parks Commission wildlife technicians who use telemetry to monitor the animals. The Fort Robinson group will commence from the shelter at the entrance of the Soldier Creek Campground. The Wildcat Hills excursion will start at the Nature Center. Participants are asked to prepare for up to three miles of hiking with appropriate footwear, sunscreen and water.

Bighorn sheep are native to the sandstone buttes and escarpments of the Panhandle but faced extirpation in the early 20th century because of disease, habitat loss and unregulated hunting. The Commission began reintroduction efforts in the 1980s.

The tours are free but a Nebraska park entry permit is required for vehicles.

About Justin Haag

Justin Haag has served the Commission as a public information officer in the Panhandle since 2013. His duties include serving as regional editor for NEBRASKAland Magazine. Haag was raised in southwestern Nebraska, where he developed a love for fishing, hunting and other outdoor pursuits. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Chadron State College in 1996, he worked four years as an editor and reporter at newspapers in Chadron and McCook. Prior to joining the Commission in 2013, he worked 12 years as a communicator at Chadron State, serving as the institution’s media and public relations coordinator the last five. He and his wife, Cricket, live in Chadron, and have two children.

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