Bighorn Sheep's Rooftop Adventure Baffles Colorado Wildlife Officials

Desiree Haros
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A male bighorn sheep is shown on the roof of a Boulder County home on Dec. 5, 2023. Wildlife officials aren't sure how the ram got onto thePhoto byColorado Parks and Wildlife

Colorado Parks and Wildlife officials found themselves grappling with a truly unique wildlife encounter – a bighorn sheep on a rooftop in unincorporated Boulder County. The incident unfolded when a homeowner spotted a bighorn ram perched on the roof of his two-story home, prompting a response from wildlife officers.

Kara Van Hoose, a spokesperson for Colorado Parks and Wildlife, recounted the peculiar event, stating, "We really aren't sure how he got up on the roof. They can jump, but I'm not sure if the house backed up to a hill or something like that." The healthy sub-adult ram remained on the roof for most of Tuesday, leaving officials puzzled about its ascent.

Efforts were initially made to let the ram come down on its own, but it eventually descended onto a raised wooden deck and became stranded behind a 4-foot railing. After spending about 36 hours at the house, a wildlife officer had to intervene, cutting and removing a section of the deck's railing to facilitate the ram's escape. On its way out, the bighorn sheep made sure to pose for the agency's game camera.

"He was unfamiliar with his surroundings and couldn't figure out how to get out of where he was," explained Van Hoose. "It wasn't until he had a clear line of sight to the ground that he got down."

Bighorn sheep are known to exist in Boulder County, but the area around the house is not their typical habitat. Van Hoose speculated that the ram might have wandered into the predicament due to the end of the mating season. She noted that the ram seemed captivated by its reflection in the window, reminiscent of a bird's behavior.

Boulder County and the city of Boulder, nestled in the Rocky Mountain foothills, are accustomed to wildlife encounters, including mountain lions, black bears, and moose. However, a bighorn sheep on a rooftop proved to be a particularly unique and amusing incident, especially considering the rivalry between the University of Colorado's buffalo mascot and Colorado State University's bighorn sheep mascot.

"We do get some unique wildlife calls, but we think this one was pretty unique," concluded Van Hoose, reflecting on the extraordinary nature of the bighorn sheep's rooftop adventure.

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