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  • Bighorn Sheep Kristen Mayers WIS 4943
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  • What Will Be Covered: Introduction Background Information Ecology Management The Future Current Event
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  • Introduction: Classification and Taxonomy Order-Artiodactyla Family- Bovidae Genus- Ovis Species- canadensis
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  • 7 subspecies: - O. c. auduboni (Extinct) - O. c. californiana (California Bighorn) - O. c. canadensis (Rocky Mountain Bighorn) - O. c. cremnobates (Peninsular Bighorn) - O. c. mexicana (Mexicana Bighorn) - O. c. nelsoni (Nelson Bighorn) - O. c. weemsi (Weems Bighorn) Map: From Halls The Mammals of North America, Volume II, 1981. Based on Cowan
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  • Introduction: Range Range: Canada, Northwestern North America, Mexico
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  • Introduction: Origin History discovered by Lewis and Clark around 1805 Ovis canadensis auduboni (Audubons Mountain Sheep) Range: Western Dakotas and E. Montana extinct in late 1890s
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  • Introduction: Physical Characteristics -Males and Females have horns (Rams are bigger) -Large muscular bodies -Brown coats (change color) -Distinct white rump patch -White muzzle -Dark brown tail -great eyesight
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  • Introduction: Identification Weight Males (Rams) 119-127kg Females (Ewes) 53-91 kg. Length (head to tail): Rams 160-180 cm Ewes 150 cm
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  • Physical Characteristics Horns: Curved *big distinction* (slight in Ewes) Light brown in color found on both males and females show ranking in males Desert species- wider Horns consist of a bony core with a permanent sheath of keratin- Sheaths grow from the base
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  • Physical Characteristics Pelage: Dark Brown faded brown White during winter Two coats 1.) brittle guard hairs 2.) fleece underfur (this sheds)
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  • Introduction: Value & Hunting (legal and conservation status) Big game species in N. America Ecotourism Food, clothing Native Americans
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  • least concern IUCN Red List
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  • Ecology Reproduction and courtship: Ewes estrus cycle ~ 28 days males can breed as young as 6 months females produce 1 lamb (twins uncommon) fertility decreases with age gustation around 175 days ( 6 months) Courtship: flehmen licking rubbing bodies and horns
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  • Rut: August-November (Desert) October- January (Rocky Mountain and California) Social groups Bachelor groups= Males Nursery groups =Females stick with other females, lambs and sub-adult males
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  • Females isolate themselves with proper food availability Lambs usually single (twins not common) *have been recorded weigh between 3.5-5 kg walk within hours weaned by 6 months stay with mom first year
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  • Survival and longevity all depending on limiting factors, disease, predation, drowning ect. males up to 12 years more aggressive during rut Females up to 15 years
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  • Ecology: Behavior Communication Males fight during rut Head butts (usually not to the death) Tongue licks and body kicks, low-stretch posture Fighting technique Interspecific interactions mule deer cattle, horses, domestic goats humans
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  • Predators Mountain Lions Wolves Bobcats Coyotes Golden Eagles lambs Response to humans Minimal direct interaction Accidents Urbanization and development casing habitat fragmentation disturbance
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  • Ecology: Populations Biology Population dynamic Growth (K)
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  • Limiting factors small numbers in herds Cattle (domestic sheep) Pneumonia (case study) Harsh winters Fire suppression Poaching Habitat loss and degradation roads Urban Development
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  • Ecology: Population Dynamic continued Competition domestic livestock introduced animals invasive plants Tamarisk- salt cedar
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  • Harvest: Super slam Hunting season archery (Dec-Jan) fire arms (Aug- Oct.) Ram hunting common distinguish between male and female
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  • Disease and Parasites Disease Pneumonia cattle, domestic sheep Chronic sinusitis psoroptic scapies blue tongue
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  • Weather can withstand cold temperatures range elevation 800 m to 2500 m changes from winter to summer double layered coat insulation protection
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  • Starvation and malnutrition competition lack of food during the winter select browse no waterhole presence
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  • Ecology: Habitat Food: shrubs forbs grasses cacti (desert subspecies) water Water: summer desert species can go 5-15 days without water
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  • Management Population Management Capture more research Translocation is it feasible and a successful approach? Disease Investigations
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  • Management Habitat Management Restoration Corridors reduce car fatalities Water management Removal of invasive plant species
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  • Management Ranching- on going battle with ranchers and conservationists domestic livestock disease fencing mortality injury Damage control limiting interactions with domestic livestock fencing at least 10ft high and 2 feet off ground
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  • Case study:
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  • Who does the future look for Bighorn Sheep? Population outlook overall, the future looks bright decrease interactions with domestic livestock more management implications Management programs
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  • Current event
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  • Resources: Idaho Park & Game. Bighorn Sheep Management Plan. 2010 Cole, Ken. Are Domestic Sheep responsible for the Bighorn Sheep Die-off in the Mojave? The Wildlife News. 2013 Kauffman Lab, Teton Bighorn Sheep Project. Wyoming Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit. group/search/teton-bighorn-sheep-project/. group/search/teton-bighorn-sheep-project/ Super Slam of North American Big Game. Bighorn Sheep. Enk, Terrence A., Picton, Harold D., Williams, James S. Factors Limiting a Bighorn Sheep Population in Montana Following a Die-off. Norwest Science. Volume 75, No. 3. Northwest Scientific Association. 2001. Dewey, Tanya., Ballenger, Liz. University of Michigan- Museum of Zoology. 2013.
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  • Foreyt, William J., Jenkins, E.J., Appleyard, G.D. TRANSMISSION OF LUNGWORMS (MUELLERIUS CAPILLARIS) FROMDOMESTIC GOATS TO BIGHORN SHEEP ON COMMON PASTURE. Journal of Wildlife Diseases. Volume 45 (2). pg. 272-278. Wildlife Disease Association. 2009. The IUNC Red List of Threatened Species. Bighorn Sheep. 2013.


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