Desert bighorn ram(Ovis canadensis mexicana) ascending cliffs on the Refuge. Photo Credit: M. Weisenberger, USFWS
San Andres Wildlife Refuge's Desert Bighorn Sheep
One of the main reasons that San Andres National Wildlife Refuge was established
in 1941 was for the protection of the remnant desert bighorn sheep herd found there.
Today this herd numbers approximately 100 animals and is slowly increasing in size.
Desert bighorn sheep were originally found throughout the southern half of New Mexico prior to European settlement. The desert bighorn population in New Mexico
is made up of approximately 500 animals. The area of the Refuge and the San Andres Mountains provide the largest protected piece of land capable of supporting desert bighorn in New Mexico. Desert bighorn require large areas of rugged mountainous terrain away from human disturbance and the Refuge is ideal for providing this.
Desert bighorn sheep ewes-Ovis canadensis mexicana. Photo Credit: C. Rodden
The oldest San Andres desert bighorn sheep ewe was almost 15 years old when she died in December, 2003. The oldest known Refuge bighorn ram died of apparent old age in 1988.
He was 13.5 years old.
Desert bighorn-Ovis canadensis mex. Photo Credit: C. Rodden