Teton sheep

Wes Livingston attaches a GPS collar to a captured bighorn sheep in the Teton Range in February 2008. A Friday night event will discuss skiers’ role in sheep conservation.

Did you know that a bighorn sheep herd lives in the Tetons?

Wildlife enthusiasts probably do, but because the sheep live in remote areas of the range, they aren’t front and center.

The Teton Backcountry Alliance wants to change that with the Teton Sheep and Skier/Snowboarder Social, set to run from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at American Legion Post 43.

No sheep will be in attendance, but the free event will include a taco bar catered by Pica’s and a “limited number” of free drinks.

“Part of the goal of this event is to try and bring info and bring light to something that is going on,” said Josh Metten, “and something that is fascinating, too.”

Metten, a guide with EcoTour Adventures, is part of the alliance’s steering committee. He said Friday’s shindig won’t be filled with policy diatribes or advocacy for more wildlife closures.

Instead it will be an opportunity for policymakers, outdoor recreationists and wildlife advocates to strike up a conversation in hopes of better understanding each other’s needs.

With closures already in place on southern Teton peaks such as Mount Hunt and Static Peak, the alliance is first working on developing a sense of stewardship in the backcountry community.

Though the alliance’s work has so far focused primarily on a backcountry user survey for Teton Pass and advocacy work with agencies, Metten wants the disparate groups to understand each other. He said recreationists may not grasp the significance of the Tetons to wildlife viewers and vice versa.

Taking that step toward understanding, he said, is the first toward making changes in the way all backcountry users steward the range’s small bighorn herd.

“We’re trying to facilitate a conversation,” Metten said. “And these are user groups that don’t spend a whole lot of time together.”

Contact Tom Hallberg at 732-7079 or thallberg@jhnewsandguide.com.

Tom Hallberg covers a little bit of everything, from skiing to long-form feature stories. A Teton Valley, Idaho, transplant by way of Portland and Bend, Oregon, he spends his time outside work writing fiction, splitboarding and climbing.

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