New Mexico Bighorn Sheep

New Mexico bighorn sheep historically speaking have never been widespread in the Northern part of the Land of Enchantment. There’s documented evidence of New Mexico bighorn sheep in White Rock Canyon, the Monzano Mountains and the Pecos and Wheeler Peak Wilderness areas. By the early 20th century, the bighorn had been essentially wiped out due to hunting and diseases brought in state by domestic livestock.

In 2006, 25 sheep were captured in the Pecos Wilderness and transported to public land on the West Rim of the Rio Grande Gorge, thus joining 23 bighorn sheep already in place across the Rio Grande on Taos Pueblo Tribal Lands. According to Pam Herrera-Olivas, in 2007, a wildlife biologist for the BLM’s Taos Field Office, “the new herd produced 12 lambs this spring, and they’re in excellent health.”

Their numbers have continued to increase in the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. On this day I came upon the East Rim Group on Taos Pueblo land. My count was 92 in all, rams, ewes and babies. Wow.

(click on image to enlarge)

Bighorn SheepSome of the group seem to be anxiously waiting. Who would be the first to make the move over, under or through the fence (seen in the background)?

Bighorn RamThis mature ram paced briefly along the fence, momentarily glanced at the paparazzi (me) then made the leap.

Bighorn RamWord around the campfire informs me that New Mexico’s bighorn sheep can clear a good 5 feet in height and a 20 foot span.

Bighorn RamThis barbed wire fence was a mere 4 feet in height, so perhaps an easy leap for this ram.

Bighorn RamIndeed, he clears it with ease therefore preserving his delicate bits.

Bighorn SheepHis audience of young rams and ewes appear unimpressed.

Baby_5926SNonlyI watched as this cutie choose to go under the fence rather than over or through.

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About Britt Runyon

A New Mexico based free roaming outdoor digital photographer, always on the qui vive for what Nature and humans provide.
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