Majestic Bighorn Sheep
Photos courtesy Jacque Aragon ©
Next time you drive over Wolf Creek Pass keep your eyes open for some beautiful creatures. These Bighorns were climbing up Wolf Creek Pass.
They blend in with the rocks and snow so look closely or you could miss them!
Bighorn Sheep (Ovis Canadensis) are beautiful and majestic creatures. They are typically found in the higher elevations near water sources or rocky cliff areas. They eat grasses and other plants. Bighorn Sheep have hooves adapted to steep, rocky terrain and use their climbing abilities to escape predators. Bighorn Sheep live to about 10 years old with a maximum life span of 20 years.
This high elevation mountain animal has a light brown coat and white rump with a stumpy tail. The horns of the female are short often causing them to be mistaken for the less common mountain goat. Only rams, the big males, grow the full curl horns for which this animal gets its name.
Trophy rams have horns that make a full curl, continuing past the eye line. It takes 7 or 8 years to reach this stage but hunting regulations and the wilderness environment allow such growth in the San Juan. Sheep stay at the highest elevations so hiking to the high country or driving up Wolf Creek Pass or an off-road trail is the only way to find them.
It is not uncommon for sheep to be seen on the rock faces along Wolf Creek Pass. Sheep are almost always seen at a distance so binoculars are handy.