A section of Yellowstone National Park near the north entrance has been temporarily closed through Dec. 19.

Yellowstone Superintendent Bob Barbee ordered the closure to reduce stress on bighorn sheep during the animals' breeding period.

Winter access to the McMinn Bench near the north entrance has been regulated by park officials since 1981 when an outbreak of pinkeye reduced the size of the bighorn sheep herd.

Bighorn sheep use the McMinn brench area for breeding and as a winter range. The temporary access restriction is expected to allow the sheep population to increase.

Access to the McMinn Bench will reopen Dec. 20, except for along the cliff face on the east side of the road in Gardner Canyon between the 45th parallel and the Rescue Creek footbridge.