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Lewis and Clark in North Dakota:
Wildlife Then & Now


Ibex or Bighorn Animals (Bighorn Sheep) Past Ibex Distribution Map of North Dakota Present Ibex Distribution Map of North Dakota
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Ibex or Bighorn Animals (Bighorn Sheep)

Historically, bighorn sheep were sighted along the Missouri River as far downstream as present day New Town and throughout much of the rougher terrain of the Little Missouri badlands. Joseph Fields, a Corps of Discovery hunter, first sighted this animal in North Dakota along the Yellowstone River. Prior to settlement, bighorns probably numbered in the thousands. Unrestricted subsistence and trophy hunting, coupled with new diseases introduced by domestic sheep, brought about a rapid decline of wild sheep in the late 1870s and 1880s. In 1905, the last known bighorn ram in the state was shot near Magpie Creek in McKenzie County. In 1956 the North Dakota Game and Fish Department reintroduced bighorn sheep to the Little Missouri National Grasslands. Today more than 200 bighorns are found scattered across the badlands in 12 more or less discrete herds.

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