Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

Group of sheeps in snow
"The wild sheep ranks highest among the animal mountaineers of the Sierra." —John Muir

The heavy snows and fierce winds that sweep across the high Sierra make this a challenging environment for even the skilled mountaineers. Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep call this home. They’ve been battling the elements, disease, and predators for centuries as they struggle to come back from the brink of extinction. In 1995 there were only 105 Sierra Nevada bighorn remaining compared to thousands during the 19th century. Early Californian shepherds grazing their livestock in high alpine meadows brought devastating disease into bighorn country, much like European settlers brought Old World diseases to the native Americans.

Today, this unique subspecies is recovering, and over 500 bighorn can now be found in the Sierras. These beautiful alpine specialists are slowly spreading across the landscape into more their former range. Please explore their home in the high Sierra and visit the links to see what CDFW is doing to conserve this majestic animal.