rocky mountain bighorn sheep

Bighorn Sheep near Golden, BC

The rocky mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), is blue listed (at risk) in British Columbia. In winter, these animals spend as much as 86% of their time within 100 metres of "escape terrain" which enables them to evade predators.


Biodiversity Interactive Map - Bighorn Sheep


Distributed discontinuously in the Rocky Mountains from the Narraway and Kakwa drainages south to Golden, then continuously south through the Rockies to the U.S. border; and from the Chilcotin Plateau (north of Anahim Lake) south to the U.S. border. Wildlife managers have translocated Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep to  several locations in B.C.; in the Columbia Basin, the Lower Arrow and Salmo herds are both introduced populations.

Most numerous in the Rocky Mountains from Golden south to the U.S. border. Discontinuous in the northern portion of the Columbia Basin Rockies.


Bighorn sheep occur in mesic to xeric, alpine to desert grasslands or shrub-steppe in mountains, foothills, or river canyons.


  • Gestation lasts about 175 days.
  • Lambing generally peaks in March in desert populations, May (occasionally April or June) in the remainder of range. 
  • Litter size is usually 1, rarely 2.

Listing and Date

Listing Date
B.C. List Blue

Threats to Species

  • Habitat loss (degradation and fragmentation)
  • Livestock ranching (disease transmission mainly domestic sheep), range depletion and resource competition
  • Predation by coyotes and cougars
  • Harassment by the public
  • Fire suppression (forest ingrowth and encroachment into grasslands).

Select Reports

Full Report Listing (most recent on top):

For more information on this species, visit The BC Species and Ecosystem Explorer and enter "bighorn sheep" in the species Name field.



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