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Ovis canadensis “Bighorn Sheep” Bovidae, male, 3 years old

Wild Horse Island, Flathead Lake, MT
September 27, 1961
col. Wesley Woodgerd (photo Robert Niese)

Bighorn Sheep were first transplanted to Wild Horse Island in 1939 and, from a herd of only 8 breeding adults, the population grew to be more than 200 strong. By the 60s and 70s, when Wesley Woodgerd was studying their herds, the maximum number of sheep recorded on the island at one time exceeded 240 individuals. This deformed young male was born around a time when the herd was likely suffering greatly from inbreeding depression which may have contributed to its odd schnoz. Alternatively, without any predators on the island, perhaps this individual was injured at a young age and managed to survive and develop this malformity from its wounds. Learn more about the Wild Horse Island Bighorn Sheep here.

Moose cow and calf, Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, MT

Alces alces “Moose” Cervidae, cow and calf

October 8, 2015
Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, MT
Robert Niese

The Moose (also called an Elk if you’re British) is the largest extant species of deer in the world. They have a circumboreal distribution and tend to be found most often around lakes and rivers in coniferous and mixed deciduous forests. The southernmost extent of the Moose’s global range occurs here in the northwestern United States. Southern Idaho is home to the largest herds of these southern residents, but small populations can also be found as far south as Utah and Colorado. In the fall, when bulls enter the rut and cows are protecting their calves, Moose are considered the most dangerous species to encounter here in Glacier National Park. In fact, in North America Moose kill more people annually than deer, bears, and mountain lions combined (including vehicle collisions).

Cervus elaphus “Wapiti” Cervidae, male

National Bison Range, MT
September 21, 2013
Robert Niese

The name “wapiti” comes from the Shawnee and it means “light-colored rump.” Elk found here in the PNW are arguably the same species as “red deer” found in Europe. They have been split and regrouped countless times by taxonomists.

Cervus elaphus “Wapiti” Cervidae, male

National Bison Range, MT
October 5, 2014
Robert Niese

Fall is the best time of year to see active male elk at the National Bison Range. We followed this big guy around for over an hour, watching him bugle all the while. 

Antilocapra americana “Pronghorn Antelope” Antilocapridae (males)

National Bison Range, MT
October 26, 2013
Robert Niese

Pronghorn Antelope, like many other North American Ungulates, are polygynous. In other words, a single, dominant male claims a harem of females and battles with rival males to maintain control of the herd. The less fortunate, subservient males tend to form “bachelor herds” in which they practice sparring with one another until they are experienced and old enough to challenge the dominant male. Also, the Pronghorn Antelope family is one of only two North American mammal families that are endemic to the continent.