Species / International Ovis

California Bighorn Sheep

Ovis canadensis californiana


British Columbia: Southern part, in the Caribou, Thompson-Nicola and Okanagan wildlife regions. Idaho: Southwestern part, south of Interstate 84 in Owyhee and Twin Falls counties (non-indigenous). Nevada: Northwestern part, north of Interstate 80 in Washoe, Humboldt and western Elko counties. Oregon: Southeastern part, mainly in Harney and Malheur counties. Utah: Small population in the northwestern part of the state. Washington: North-central part, near the B.C. border in Okanogan and Ferry counties; central part, in Kittitas and Yakima counties; and southeastern part, in Asotin, Garfield and Columbia counties.


The California bighorn is considerably smaller than the Rocky Mountain bighorn, with rams of the same age weighing as much as 50 pounds less. The horns are shorter and less massive, and tend to have more flare. The ears are longer, the coat is not as heavy, and the color is lighter, being more gray than brown. Normally a dark stripe extends from the dorsal area through the white rump patch to connect with the dark tail, whereas in the Rocky Mountain bighorn this stripe is usually interrupted or absent.


Less steep and rough than that of the Rocky Mountain bighorn, with more grass and less browse.


Present United States populations are largely the result of transplants from British Columbia through the cooperation of the B.C. Fish and Wildlife Branch.

Recommended Outfitters