Bighorn Sheep Pocket Journal

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Model: PJ-76
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Bighorn sheep are found in the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to Colorado; a desert subspecies ranges from Nevada to California to west Texas and south into Mexico. Bighorns inhabit alpine meadows, grassy mountain slopes, and foothill country near rugged, rocky cliffs and bluffs. They are primarily grazers, consuming grasses, leaves, herbs, twigs and shoots. They climb cliff faces with amazing ease, using tiny ledges for footholds and bouncing from ledge to ledge over distances of up to 20 feet.

Bighorn sheep have compact muscular bodies. Males can be easily recognized by their massive horns which curl back over the ears. The females are smaller then the males and have shorter, smaller horns that never exceed half a curl. Bighorns are renowned for the spectacular competition among males during the breeding season. Male dominance hierarchies are based on horn size; males with smaller horns are generally subservient to larger-horned males. Males with similarly sized horns battle amongst each other for breeding privileges. Facing each other from a distance they run towards each other with heads lowered, rearing up and crashing their heads together. Foreheads slam with a crack that can be heard for more than a mile.

Bighorn populations began to decline in the mid-1800’s at the time of heavy human settlement, partly due to degradation of habitat, development, road-building, water-management and recreational activities. Bighorns live in increasingly fragmented populations which make them more vulnerable.

 

artwork by Irene Brady

text by Steve Sierigk

Tags: animals,