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State Animal: Desert Bighorn Sheep

In 1973 the Desert Bighorn Sheep (ovis canadensis) became Nevada's state animal.  They were the first sheep in Nevada and lived in the Sierra Nevada and some mountain ranges near the center of the state as early as 11,000 years ago.

At one time there were more Bighorn Sheep than deer in Nevada.  By the 20th century the population of the Bighorn had dropped.  Domestic sheep and livestock competed for water and grazing land.  Miners and millers competed for water and space.  Ranchers and farmers built near springs used by the Bighorn and disrupted the delicate environmental balance.  They have nearly died out in the northern part of the state.  The Bighorn Sheep, a symbol of survival, has been placed on the endangered species list, and their numbers are beginning to grow.

Photo Credit:
Nevada Department of Wildlife