Bighorn Mountain Sheep - The Animals of British Columbia, Canada. Bighorn Sheep


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British Columbia Outdoor Wilderness Guide


Bighorn Mountain Sheep
Ovis canadensis
or California Bighorn Sheep, Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep


Description - The Bighorn Mountian Sheep's muscular bodied animal is covered with a brown coat, the belly, rump, back of legs, muzzle and eye patch are white. The most distinct feature of the mature male Bighorn is a set of massive horns which spiral backwards from the top of the head. The hooves are hard on the outside and soft on the inside making it an excellent climber and jumper.

Distribution - The California Bighorn resides in alpine meadows and foothills near rocky cliffs in the Okanagan, Similkameen and south Chilcotin regions. Most sheep ranges are within easy range of cliffs with avalanche chutes and talus slopes which they use to escape from predators.

Biology - This sheep tends to be a grazing animal and feeds on grasses such as wheatgrass, bluegrass and Junegrass. The rutting season is for Bighorn Mountain Sheep is from mid-September to lats October. During this time the males have butting contests where they may reach one another at speeds of 50-70 miles per hour and an estimated force of 2400 pounds. The maximum life span is 16-18 years but and average is about 7-8 years. Most die during the winter from cold, predation or disease due to malnutrition. The Bighorn has always been prized for their meat; the horns were used by some Indians to make powerful bows and are still prized by hunters as trophies.

Bighorn Sheep Tracks

Tracks - The track of the Bighorn Sheep has a straighter edge and is less pointed than that of the deer with a blockier shape and small hollow on the inside of the hoof. Regardless of these differences, the tracks of the deer and Bighorn Sheep are easily confused.

Straddle: 17 - 20 cm (6.8 - 8 in)
Stride: 45 - 58 cm (18 - 23.2 in)
Track: 7.5 cm (3 in) long / 5 cm (2 in) wide


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Bighorn Mountain Sheep - The Animals of British Columbia, Canada. Bighorn Sheep