Battle of the Bighorn Sheep: Today’s Wildlife Watching in Yellowstone

Bighorn sheep battle in Yellowstone, 12/15/10 (photo by Beth Pratt)

As Teddy Roosevelt would have exclaimed, I had a “bully” wildlife day. On my morning drive I was lucky enough to encounter two magnificent bighorn sheep rams tussling along the banks of the Gardner River in Yellowstone. 

From the road, I had ringside seats to this dramatic dominance match. A bighorn’s horns can weigh up to 40 pounds and the animals can clash at speeds of over 40 mph. Although rams can be left a bit battered after the rut season (some battles can last 24 hours), serious injury is rare because of their natural shock system of a honeycomb horn base and perfectly aligned spine. Their system is so effective that automobile companies study the bighorn to help design better collision resistant material for automobiles.

For more photos and a video of the bighorn sheep rut, see my article "Fall wildlife watching in Yellowstone: the bighorn sheep rut"

Here’s a collection of photos from today’s battle.