Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

The Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep is North America's largest species of wild sheep. They are bulkier and stockier in body size than the other subspecies found in Nevada. They have thick, light brown fur that they shed in the summer months to keep cool in the desert's hot summers.
SCIENTIFIC NAME
Ovis canadensis canadensis
CLASSIFICATION
Mammal
LIFE SPAN
9-12 Years
SIZE
60-65 ” | 150-300 lbs
STATE CONSERVATION STATUS
  • Priority Species
FEDERAL CONSERVATION STATUS
Least Concern
GAME STATUS
Game
GAME TYPE
Big Game
  1. Washoe
  2. Humboldt
  3. Pershing
  4. Churchill
  5. Mineral
  6. Lyon
  7. Douglas
  8. Carson City
  9. Storey
  1. Elko
  2. Lander
  3. Eureka
  4. White Pine
  1. Esmeralda
  2. Nye
  3. Lincoln
  4. Clark

Habitat & Range

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep inhabit grassy mountain slopes, alpine meadows, and foothills near rugged, rocky cliffs and bluffs.

  • Alpine and Tundra
  • Cliffs and Canyons
  • Desert Washes

Threats

  • Disease
  • Habitat Fragmentation
  • Habitat Loss

Natural History

Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep rams (males) will band together in the spring and summer, while ewes (female bighorn sheep) and their babies will form separate groups. During winter, the separate groups will come together to form larger herds. Mating season, called the “rut”, starts in fall and rams will compete to mate with females. Ewes will have one lamb during spring to early summer. These sheep graze on grasses, sedges, and clover in warmer months and willow, holly, cactus, and sage in the cooler months. When they aren’t grazing, they lie down and chew their cud. Bighorn Sheep can go without drinking water for months at a time because they get all the necessary liquids and electrolytes from the plants that they eat.

Fun Facts

The horns of a ram are called "curls" and can weigh up to 30 pounds!