Sierra Nevada Bighorn Sheep

The Sierra Nevada bighorn sheep was the subject of the first Migrating Mural, a series of six installations along a 120-mile stretch of California highway 395. Found only in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains and one of three bighorn species, the sheep’s population plummeted to around one hundred individuals in the 1990s due to a domestic sheep disease. Thanks to conservation efforts their population has now grown to more than 500 sheep.

Mono Basin Visitor Center – Lee Vining, CA

The Mt. Gibbs Herd Unit, represented by topo lines of the mountain itself, faces particular threat from mountain lion predation. The species silhouetted—pika, jackrabbit, great horned owl, Jeffrey pine, pronghorn antelope, black bear, osprey, mountain quail, American badger, greater sage grouse, and cliff swallows—are important parts of the Mono Basin ecosystem.

Bishop Gun Club – Bishop, CA

The Wheeler Crest herd unit has a pronounced altitude migration pattern, descending from high altitudes in the summer to lower elevations in the winter. The arrow represents the seasonal temperature gradient, above and below the tree line, along which they migrate.

Sage to Summit – Bishop, CA

Inspired by the name of the store upon which it is painted, this mural depicts (L to R) the sheep’s seasonal forage from winter to fall: sagebrush, bitterbrush, sierra columbine and alpine sedge.

Mt. Williamson Motel – Independence, CA

This mural represents the growth stages of a male sheep from lamb to ram. The Mt. Williamson herd unit is one of the original native herd units, surviving the spread of disease from domestic sheep, which drove total Sierra bighorn numbers down to roughly 100 animals.

Willie, an 8-year old ram, stands proudly in front of 14,375-foot Mt. Williamson, California’s second tallest mountain.

Lone Pine Regional Airport - Lone Pine, CA

Bighorns have been roaming the Sierras for 300,000 years and the glaciers represent the three glacial cycles they have survived. Images of sheep petroglyphs, painted by local members of the Lone Pine Shoshone-Paiute tribe, pay homage to those who first painted bighorns on Sierra rock walls.