See A Grizzly Bear Chase a Herd of Bighorn Sheep Down a Busy Interstate

Written by Sharon Parry
Published: October 26, 2023
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Viewer discretion is advised for strong language.

The couple in this clip got a bit more than they bargained for at the start of their fall hike in Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada. Just as they were getting out of the car, they spotted a herd of bighorn sheep racing toward them. Soon, they realize exactly why the sheep are in such a panic. A grizzly bear is pursuing the flock across the road and into the car park! The sheep turn and race down the road with the grizzly right behind them but somehow they manage to escape. This grizzly is going to have to look elsewhere for his meal.

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A post shared by Bree – ALBERTA + BC ELOPEMENTS (@breeze.photography)

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What Exactly Are Bighorn Sheep?

Apart from being a potential lunch item for grizzly bears, bighorn sheep are a member of the Ovis genus and a relative of antelopes, goats, and gazelles. They are a native species of the Rocky Mountains and can be spotted from southern Canada through to Colorado. There is also a subspecies of these sheep that live in the desert including in Nevada and west Texas.

They like to live in alpine meadows and grassy mountain slopes. Because they are not able to paw through the snow to feed, they need to stay in areas where the snow is not too deep. They grow to a maximum of about 250 pounds in weight and reach around 70 inches in length.

Bighorn Sheep of Kananaskis

bighorn sheep shedding its fur

You can age a bighorn sheep from its horns.

©iStock.com/kellyvandellen

The bighorn sheep is the provincial animal of Alberta. They can frequently be seen causing holdups on the roads in the area. As a species, they like the really cold weather. When they breathe in the cold air, it kills parasites such as lungworms. Therefore, they do not do so well in warmer winters. These sheep are attracted to the roads because they like to lick the salt and some of them even end up nibbling on the gravel! Believe it or not, the gravel aids their digestion by physically breaking down the tough grasses and lichens in their diet.

You can age a bighorn sheep by examining their horns. They do not shed their horns and they make a few growth rings every year. However, by looking at the major growth rings you can work out how many years old a particular sheep is.

In this clip, we see the flock sticking together when it is pursued by a grizzly. The flock is led by an older female sheep called an ewe. She leads the flock to the best feeding areas and hopefully knows how to get away from grizzlies!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © iStock.com/Gary Gray


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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