Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis)
The large, spiraled horns of ram bighorn sheep are distinctive. Bighorn sheep are brown to grayish brown in color, with light under parts, a white muzzle and an obvious, light rump patch. Ewes and young rams have spike-like, curved horns. Bighorns are the largest of all north American wild sheep. Adult rams weigh up to 135 kg (300 lb.), but adult ewes are much smaller, averaging 70 kg (150 lb.). Sheep have soft hooves with hard outer rims that give them good footing on precarious ledges. However, the two parts of the hoof are not independently movable. Thus, bighorns are not as agile as mountain goats on difficult terrain. Bighorns do move quickly over rocky mountain slopes when alarmed. The eyesight of bighorn sheep is acute; they can detect movement over a kilometer away. The rut occurs from November to December. Lambs are born the following spring. Sheep are mainly grazers, feeding on grasses and forbs. They may also browse on alpine willows. They make frequent use of mineral or salt licks. Bighorns spend their summers high in the alpine zone on grass-covered slopes. In winter they may migrate a considerable distance to reach south or southwest-facing slopes where snow cover is minimal. The Fish and Wildlife Division estimates the provincial population (in Sept.) to be about 5,800 animals. This estimate is based on population counts in selected areas and hunter harvest information.
(This text information was provided by Alberta Government Resource Development)