Band Of Brothers
North of Roosevelt Lake, up in the mountains of the Sierra Ancha Wilderness in the Tonto National Forest, I found this band of Big Horn Sheep brothers grazing on top of Parker Bluffs.
At the beginning of the nineteenth century, bighorn sheep in North America were estimated to number between 1.5 and 2 million, but today less than 70,000 remain. In the late 1800's, hunting, competition from livestock grazing, and diseases introduced by domestic livestock devastated bighorn populations. Although problems with domestic livestock are subsiding, they still exist and are now accompanied by accelerating habitat loss and human disturbance. Habitat loss and fragmentation are recognized as the most significant threats facing bighorn sheep today. Natural predation from mountain lions, coyotes and bobcats also pose a risk to bighorn populations that have dwindled to low numbers.