Wednesday, December 19, 2007

My Horns Will Get Bigger

I really didn't have anything ready for today, except for a photo. With the upcoming holiday season, power outages in the area and wanting to play with my son more than type on this darn machine I will just have to wing it. Let me start out with the fact that I like this photograph, it may not be right in a perfect world or this color is off or it should have been cropped this way or that way. I have now realized what makes photography fun and that is not taking pictures that please people, but photos that I like.

Bighorn sheep once numbered in the millions in western United States and were an important food source for humans. The "Sheepeaters", related to the Shoshoni tribe, lived year-round in Yellowstone until 1880. Their principal food was bighorn sheep and they made their bows from sheep horns. By 1900, during an "epoch of relentless destruction by the skin hunters", bighorn numbers were reduced to a few hundred in the United States. In 1897 Seton spent several months roaming the upper ranges of Yellowstone Park and did not see any, although about 100-150 were estimated to be present. He reported that by 1912, despite a disease (scab) contracted from domestic sheep, bighorns in the park had increased to more than 200 and travelers could find them with fair certainty by devoting a few days to searching around Mt. Everts, Mt. Washburn or other well-known ranges. In winter, small bands of sheep could then be seen every day between Mammoth and Gardiner. By 1914 there were about 210 sheep in Yellowstone and by 1922 there were 300. Censuses since the 1920s have never indicated more than 500 sheep. In recent years, bighorns have been systematically counted by aerial surveys in early spring. An annual ground count is also conducted on the winter range in the northern part of the park.

Bighorn sheep are named for the large, curved horns borne by the males, or rams. Females, or ewes, also have horns, but they are short with only a slight curvature. Sheep range in color from light brown to grayish or dark, chocolate brown, with a white rump and lining on the back of all four legs. Rocky Mountain bighorn females weigh up to 200 pounds, and males occasionally exceed 300 pounds. During the mating season or "rut", occurring in November and December, the rams butt heads in apparent sparring for females. Rams’ horns can weigh more than 40 pounds, and frequently show broken or "broomed" tips from repeated clashes. Lambs, usually only one per mother, are born in May and June. They graze on grasses and browse shrubby plants, particularly in fall and winter, and seek minerals at natural salt licks. Bighorns are well adapted to climbing steep terrain where they seek cover from predators such as coyotes, eagles, and mountain lions. They are susceptible to disease such as lungworm, and sometimes fall off cliffs.

1 comment:

Sparky said...

I like the pic. It looks good the way it is natural.