Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bighorn Mating Behavior - Miller Butte - Jackson, Wyoming

The Bighorn ewe being pursued by the young rams in the previous photo, climbed up on this ledge where she is being guarded by a larger ram. The large mature rams keep the smaller rams from harassing the females and do most of the mating. When hunting reduces the number of large rams in a herd, the ewes get chased excessively by the young rams.
The ram in this photo was the largest ram I have observed in this herd and he is not very big compared to rams in non-hunted herds in national parks. Hunting and killing the large rams for trophies gradually produces a population of inferior rams with small horns. This ram is a prime example. His male offspring will have horns similar to his. If he gets killed in the next hunting season, even smaller horned rams will mate with the ewes.

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