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Humans Moving In on Bighorn

Peninsular bighorn sheep are one of three bighorn sheep subspecies in California. They are found from Palm Springs to the tip of Baja California.

The other two types of bighorn sheep are California bighorn, found in Sierra Nevada and Nelson’s bighorn, found along the Colorado River, the Mojave Desert and the San Gabriel Mountains. There are 4,000 bighorn, of all three species, statewide .

However, there are fewer than 600 of the peninsular variety statewide, including about 300 at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.

Their number has been declining for two or three years, a phenomenon attributed mainly to human encroachment on their habitat.

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Peninsular bighorn are herbivores. They spend most of their time on rocky slopes. Their hooves have especially softened calluses to give them the flexibility they need to climb up steep slopes.

Rams usually weigh about 210 pounds and their horns can grow up to 30 to 40 inches long, so long they begin to curl. A ram’s head and skull can weigh up to 30 pounds. Ewes usually weigh 120 pounds and have shorter, straight horns, 10 to 15 inches long.


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