- Bighorns are the largest of all North American wild sheep.
- Adult rams weigh up to 135 kilograms (300 pounds), but adult ewes are much smaller, averaging 70 kilograms (150 pounds).
- Bighorn sheep are brown to greyish brown in colour, with light underparts and an obvious, light rump patch. Muzzle is white.
- Bighorn rams have distinctive, large, spiralled horns. Ewes and young rams have spike-like, curved horns.
- All bighorn sheep have soft hooves with hard outer rims that give them good footing on precarious ledges.
- The two parts of a bighorn's hoof are not independently movable. Thus, bighorns are not as agile as mountain goats on difficult
terrain, though they can move quickly over rocky mountain slopes when alarmed.
- Bighorn sheep populations range from the southwest Alberta and west-central British Columbia alpine regions east through
Montana and south through California and New Mexico to northern Mexico.
- Bighorns spend their summers high in the alpine zone on grass-covered slopes.
- In winter, bighorn sheep may migrate a considerable distance to reach south or southwest-facing slopes where snow cover
- Bighorn sheep graze on grasses and forbs. They may also browse on alpine willows.
- They make frequent use of mineral or salt licks.
- The rut occurs from November to December.
- Lambs are born the following spring.
Bighorn sheep are classified as Secure in the General Status of Alberta Wild Species report. See:
See details in the Alberta Guide to Hunting Regulations. To view the guide online or to order a printed copy, visit
the My Wild Alberta website at:
The eyesight of bighorn sheep is acute; they can detect movement over a kilometre (0.62 miles) away.
Updated: May 18, 2010