Bighorn Sheep are ungulates. They are currently not endangered, with an estimated population of around 15,500 sheep in Canada and more than 42,000 in the USA .
Bighorn Sheep have light brown to grayish or dark brown fur. They also have a white rump and a white stripe that runs down the back of all four legs. The males have large, curved horns that can weigh up to 30 lbs ! The females also have horns, however, these are much smaller.
The Canadian Rockies are home to Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep. They can be found in grassy mountain slopes, alpine meadows, or foothill areas near rocky cliffs and bluffs .
Bighorn Sheep are ruminants, meaning that they chew the cud regurgitated from its rumen. During the Summer, they eat grasses; in the Winter, when grass is difficult to find, their diet consists of more woody plants such as sage and willow. Because Bighorn Sheep are ruminants, they are able to rapidly eat large portions of food before retreating to cliffs or ledges where they can rechew and digest their food .
The average lifespan of a Bighorn Sheep is 6 to 15 years . Breeding occurs in the Fall, and lambs are born in the Spring. The gestation period is around 175 days . Lambs can walk within hours after birth. They continue to nurse up to 6 months.
Male Bighorn Sheep use their horns to compete for ewes in butting contests. During a butting contest, males can charge each other with speeds of more than 20 mph. Their battles may last as long as 24 hours ! During most of the year the females and young live in herds of about 10 sheep. The males live in bachelor herds. Once mating season arrives, herds gather together and form groups as large as 100 sheep.
Striped Skunks are currently considered to be on the “Least Concern” section of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species . However, proper conservation is important, regardless of the species’ endangerment state.
Striped Skunks have thick, black fur with a white stripe that runs down from their neck and splits into two stripes (running down each side of the Skunk) just past the Skunk’s shoulders. Striped Skunks also have a thin, white stripe that runs along the top of their forehead down to the tip of their snout. They have strong, straight front paws that help the Skunk rip apart trees and shrubs in their search for food and helps it dig a den for shelter. On average a grown Striped Skunk weighs around 3.25 kg (7.17 lb.) .
Striped Skunk are native to North America, and can be found up North (Northwest Territories and Nunavut) all the way down to Central Mexico. The Striped Skunk generally prefers to live in open areas with a mix of habitat like forest and grasslands . In general Striped Skunks are found at elevations from sea level to 1,800 meters, but have been documented as high as 4,200 meters .
Striped Skunks are omnivores, and will eat anything from fruit and plants to eggs, small mammals, insects, reptiles, and even fish .
Skunks typically mate in early spring. They do not mate for life, and so one male will mate with more than one female. Generally there are between two and ten young born per litter. When they are born, skunk kits are blind and deaf. After just one week, they can begin to use their stink glands for defense . On average a Striped Skunk will live up to three years in the wild .
Striped Skunks are nocturnal. They are timid, non-aggressive animals that will not spray unless they have been provoked .