Once widely distributed across the West, bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) persist chiefly in small, fragmented populations that are at ongoing risk of decline as a result of disease, habitat loss, forest encroachment caused by fire suppression, and disruption of their migratory routes by roads and other human activities. Given the vagaries of weather and disease, bighorn sheep populations of at least 300 are considered preferable to increase the probability of long-term persistence with minimal loss of genetic diversity.

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