Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep
Also known as Mountain sheep.
Typically, the preferred terrain of Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep is rough, rocky and steep.
Bighorn sheep live in gendered herds, made up of sexually mature males or females and mixed-sex, immature offspring.
Females have an average lifespan that extends far beyond males. Ewes will live between 12 and 20 years while rams live an average of 10 to 12 years.
Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep are ruminant herbivores. Their diet includes grasses, herbaceous plants and shrubs. They are very selective feeders; eating seasonally, they seek out the most nutritious vegetation available.
The total population of Sierra bighorn has made a significant recovery since its low of about 100 animals in 1995. There are now at least 600 individuals, as estimated by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Why are they Endangered?
Diseases passed on from domestic sheep and goats, habitat changes resulting from vegetation succession, predation and inbreeding due to small population size all threaten the recovery of the Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep population.