Mass: 53 - 127 kg Length: to 10 ft. (3 m) Biomes: desert, mountains Status: special concern. Threatened with eventual extinction, bighorn numbers are only one-tenth the population that existed when white people first began exploiting the Rockies. The subspecies Ovis canadensis auduboni of the Black Hills and adjacent areas has already become extinct. Hunting has been prohibited or controlled since the early 1900's, but much illegal poaching still occurs. Recovery of numbers has been slow for these animals and their future is bleak unless further conservation measures are taken.
Range: Ovis canadensis is found in the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to Colorado, and as a desert subspecies (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) from Nevada and California to west Texas and south into Mexico.
Hiker's Note: Males 119-127kg; females 53-91 kg. Rams typically measure 160-180 cm from head to tail, while ewes are approximately 150 cm. Bighorn sheep have double-layered skulls shored with struts of bone for battle protection. They also have a broad, massive tendon linking skull and spine to help the head pivot and recoil from blows. Horns may way as much as 14 kg, which is the weight of all the bones in a ram's body. The horns of a female are much smaller and only slightly curved. The horns of a ram can tell much about him such as his age, health, and fighting history. The desert subspecies, Ovis canadensis nelsoni, is somewhat smaller and has flatter, wider-spreading horns.
Bighorn tracks are 2.5 - 3.5 in. (6 - 9 cm.) long and are splayed somewhat when running.