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mountain sheep:see bighornbighorn
or Rocky Mountain sheep,
wild sheep, Ovis canadensis, of W North America, formerly plentiful in mountains from SW Canada to N Mexico. Indiscriminate hunting, disease, and scarcity of food enormously reduced its numbers by the mid-20th cent.
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(Ovis), a genus of artiodactyl ruminants of the Cavicornia family. The animals are up to 140 cm long, measure 65–120 cm at the shoulder, and weigh 40–200 kg. The two species are the Marco Polo sheep (O. ammon) and the bighorn sheep (O. canadensis). Both species form a large number of geographic races. (Some researchers classify the mountain sheep inhabiting the USSR into four species.)
Mountain sheep inhabit open spaces (plateaus and gentle mountain slopes) and avoid plains devoid of shelter. As a result of human economic activity and intensive hunting, the distribution of mountain sheep is confined basically to alpine regions (up to elevations of 5,500 m). Mountain sheep feed on grassy vegetation and are gregarious, polygamous animals. The mating season lasts from the end of November through December. The gestation period is about five months, with no more than two young being born. The animals reach sexual maturity in their second year and may live 12–13 years. While running they can attain a speed of up to 60 km/h. In many areas the number of mountain sheep has declined sharply, and hunting has been partially prohibited. The meat and skin are used. Mouflons have become acclimatized in the hunting reserves of Western Europe. Mountain sheep were domesticated far back in antiquity and are the progenitors of many modern breeds of domesticated sheep.
REFERENCESTsalkin, V. I. Gornye barany Evropy i Azii. Moscow, 1951.
Sokolov, 1. I. Kopytnye zveri. Moscow-Leningrad, 1959 (Fauna SSSR, vol. 1, issue 3).
Geptner, V. G., A. A. Nasimovich, and A. G. Bannikov. Parnokopy-tnye i neparnokopytnye. (Mlekopitaiushchie Sovetskogo Soiuza, vol. 1.) Moscow, 1961.