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Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

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Data were collected from May 1988 to May 1989 to aid in the development of a management program for Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis) at Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area (BICA). A principle goal of the management program at BICA is to promote the continued expansion of a reintroduced population of bighorn sheep throughout its ancestral habitat (BICA 1984). In previous research at BICA (Coates and Schemnitz 1988) we identified 3 factors as potentially limiting to herd expansion: visitor and/or vehicular disturbance of bighorns (especially reproductive ewes), competition with horses for a limited supply of grasses, and possible genetic constraints on recruitment (i.e., inbreeding depression) resulting from small founder group size.