ATV Hay Lift


Nelson, Salmo, Ymir, Fruitvale, Castlegar, and Trail Did It!!!

It is getting towards that time when the Kootenay Pass herd of Bighorns move down from the mountain heights where they spend the summer, to occupy their winter feeding area.  Area outdoor clubs, notably Nelson District Rod & Gun, and Trail Wildlife Association, have for over 30 years now provided a winter food supplement of hay, feed pellets, and salt to the sheep.  This serves to keep the sheep healthier throughout the winter. It also encourages less use of the highway by the Bighorns, to avoid roadkill.

Getting the feed to the sheep three-times weekly has been a very labor intensive process.  Bales of hay and sacks of pellets have had to be manually packed up by volunteers, so with Ministry of Environment’s permission, the Nelson District Rod & Gun built a hay shed nearby.  This shed stores the bulk of the winter hay, so that the club volunteers can now just hike up and access the feed without having to pack it manually each time.

But – getting the winter’s hay to the shed has been a logistical challenge – the trail is steep, the highway is a risky place to park while unloading, and the sheer labor was gruelling.

Enter the Salmo Valley Seniors ATV Club, and ATV-using members of the Nelson District Rod & Gun Club and Trail Wildlife Association. On 15 October 2017 a collaboration of club members and other volunteers cleared a gnarly stretch of “lost” overgrown trail to allow ATV access almost to the hay shed.  Then, on 28 October, another, much bigger collection of area volunteers from the communities listed above, gathered for the Hay Lift. We all rendezvoused at an access point, safely off the highway, and moved hay over that trail like it was the Chilkoot Pass at gold rush time! Well, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but the foot volunteers and drivers that hefted the hay bales from the flatbed trailer, onto quads, and later off the quads and  on into the shed, did NOT get time to be idle!  Some of the bales were also off-loaded from ATV partway at a “choke point” and were then manually transferred back to other ATV / Quads to finish the trip.

The Hay Lift was a combination of machine labor, manual labor, and good planning by all. The participants from so many communities, both on foot and with quads showed the Kootenays values our wildlife.  With such a get-it-done attitude, we saw everyone gathered at the now-empty flatbed trailer well ahead of the anticipated schedule.  As soon as the hay departed the flatbed, a BBQ, coffee, and snacks appeared on the convenient flatbed “table”.  Great food was ready as work finished!  Also our special thanks to whoever arranged that beautiful calm sunny day!

Visitors will be welcome for pix and questions after the feed program starts,(the Bighorns decide that!), probably mid-December, Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday 10 AM-ish. Just drive up the West side of Kootenay pass, Hwy 3, 25 km from Salmo, to a big pull-out, and you will find the trail uphill nearby.  NO dogs please.  The Bighorns get spooked by all canines. Please NO private feeding – it actually disrupts the Bighorn winter metabolism. See you there!


Kootenay Pass Sheep Feeding April 9th 2016

Some surprises are nice.

Since the beginning of March, when we had 29 sheep, numbers have increased.

2 ewes, a young ram and a lamb came in. This gave us a total of 7 lambs. The biggest crop of lambs in quite a few years.

About the 20th of March a single ewe with a lamb arrived. They were very skittish and took several days to adjust to the people. With 8 lambs and a total of at least 35 sheep, no losses to roads or predators since early December, we feel that it’s a good start to the new year.

The only bad news is that a mature ewe was seen near the domestic sheep at Stag Leap ranch.

Disease transfer from domestic sheep is an ever present danger and has been responsible for the loss of up to 80 % of some other lower BC herds in the last year.

The sheep will be moving away to summer pastures very soon and new lambs will be born starting the middle of May.

Have a nice summer,

Bob Vliet021720100959

2016 Kootenay Pass Sheep Feeding

2016, Kootenay Pass

Sheep feeding started Dec. 21st with 16 sheep at the feeders. We supplied timothy hay with red-white clover, a salt block with sulfur and loose salt with mineral.

There was a rumor that 2 sheep had been hit on the highway earlier in December which is unconfirmed.

As of Jan. 13th there are 29 sheep; 4 large rams, 6 lambs with the rest being ewes and young rams.

There were also 3 white tails spotted, a doe and two fawns.

The Trail group has supplied pellets starting shortly after Christmas. Thanks Laure Bursaw, Ken Moon and Russ Lafreniere.


Sheep Feeding on Kootenay Pass, 20160113

Sheep Feeding on Kootenay Pass, 2016/01/13

Kootenay Pass Sheep Feeding – 2014-15

Sheep feeding has gone well this year. Feeding started the middle of December and will end in April when the sheep leave for the summer ranges. There were a maximum of 32 sheep at the feeders with 6 lambs to help increase the herd. Timothy and clover hay was provided by Charly Moon of Creston. It attracted the sheep like a magnet and attested that it was of high quality. Thank you Charly.

We will be looking at ways to keep the sheep off of the highway on their summer range. The problem is the need for salt and mineral.

Bob VlietSheep Program Dec 2010 008-12012 March SheepFeed 024-1

Kootenay Pass Mountain Sheep, June 2014

Sheep Program Dec 2010 014-1Hello everybody,

This is my first post on this site.

To get started I’ll wish the sheep a good lambing.

Brad Fuller,Jack Fjoyd,Jay Colley,Dan Danforth,Brent Cairney and Brian Cairney

Brad Fuller,Jack Fjoyd,Jay Colley,Dan Danforth,Brent Cairney and Brian Cairney – hay packers

It  was a late spring with lots

of high country snow that left

them scrounging for grass

before the alpine forbs were

available. If you hike onto

the mountain side below

the microwave towers it’s

possible to see ewes and

maybe young lambs.

We will start feeding again in early December.

Yours truly,

Bob Vliet


2011 Sheep Supplement Jan 2011 014