AGOG presents “Vanishing Bighorns” Group Exhibit
About The Event
“Vanishing Bighorns” is a reminder of the challenges that wildlife face when trying to co-exist with humans. The fourteen individual bighorn sheep portrayed in the exhibition, were, in 2020, the remaining individuals of a herd that has resided in the Kicking Horse Canyon since the mid 1980’s.
Using the medium of their choice and a variety of photographs, fourteen local artists have each created a portrait of one unique member of the herd. Since the inception of this project, several of these fourteen sheep have died, primarily as a result of highway mortality. Fortunately, five lambs were born in the Spring of 2021 and three of these survived the winter. We have opted to portray these animals in their natural state, without radio-collars. Five of this group were fitted with radio-collars in 2019 and three of them carried them to the grave.
Bighorn sheep are vanishing throughout western Canada. The Golden herd is unique in that the highway makes up a significate portion of their home range. The sheep have learned to use the highway to their advantage, though it also remains the main cause of their decline. The intelligence of these animals is demonstrated by their ability to gain access to the Trans-Canada Highway by jumping over two meters high at jump outs (breaks in fencing where animals can leave the highway corridor) and by opening one-way gates (also intended to allow animals to escape the highway corridor) from the back side. These maneuvers allow them to access the highway where they find water, food, SW facing slopes, minerals and travel routes, along with deadly vehicles. Once the highway construction project is completed and travel speeds increase, the likelihood of this herd vanishing completely will also increase. To keep the sheep off of the highway, the escape structures (jump outs and gates) will need modification and associated fencing will be required.
If you would like to learn more about the Golden herd, please visit www.wildsight.ca/goldensheep. Funding for artists’ honoraria for this project was provided by the CSRD-Area A, the Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance and the Columbia Basin Trust.
Meg Langley, Project Coordination
Thanks for the financial support of CSRD Area “A” and Columbia Kootenay Cultural Alliance.
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Kicking Horse Culture presents about four dozen cultural events and activities throughout the year in Golden, B.C., the traditional unceded territory of the Ktunaxa and Secwépemc Nations which is also home to Métis Nation Columbia River.