Bighorn Sheep

Nimble climbers

About 150 bighorn sheep live in Yellowstone near steep terrain where they can stay safe from predators. Bighorns are occasionally eaten by wolves but there are certainly easier meals to be had than these agile ungulates. Bighorn sheep numbers have actually increased since wolf restoration began in 1995, possibly because of the decrease in elk, a main food competitor.

Like other ungulates, males battle in autumn, ramming rivals with their big horns. Like their name says, they have horns, not antlers. Horns are not shed and keep growing. So, the bigger and curlier the horns, the older the ram.

photo credit: NPS/Diane Renkin

Quick Facts

Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis)

Bighorns live in small herds. Males have large curled horns. Ewes and older lambs, have smaller, pointy horns. Concave, padded hooves and amazing balance and eyesight allow bighorn sheep to stand on ledges that are only 5 cm (2 inches) wide and jump up to 6 meters (20 feet). They can traverse rocky slopes at 24 km/h (15 mph).

SIZE: Males up to 140 kg (300 lb). They can carry 9-8 kg (20 to 40 lbs) of their weight in their huge horns! Females are smaller.

TOP SPEED: Over level ground, they can run 48 kph (30 mph) but they stick close to the safety of steep terrain.

DIET: Herbivores (eat plants): grasses and shrubs

Bighorn Sheep in WolfQuest

Coming soon to WolfQuest: Anniversary Edition!

Bighorn sheep will be found on the cliffs of Specimen Ridge below Amethyst Mountain and in rocky areas above Slough Creek.

Catching a bighorn sheep will take a lot of skill and some luck. Easier meals are everywhere.

In the autumn, listen for the crack of horns colliding as the males duel.