Although it is not common knowledge, even to most Southern Californians, the San Gabriel Mountains are home to several large herds of magnificent Desert Big Horn Sheep. In fact, our spectacular local mountains harbor some of the largest and most stable populations of these animals in the state of California.
On a hike in the Lytle Creek area of the San Gabriel Mountains, I was fortunate to view an entire herd as they descended a cliff face down to a stream below. Because of my fortuitous position when I spotted the herd, I was able to capture the interesting behavior of these wonderful animals as they cautiously negotiate the drop down to the stream bed.
In the video below the herd is grouped initially close together, but they then descend slowly and individually down the mountain side.
This second video below was shot only a minute or so after the one above. Because the sheep were not aware of my presence (lucky I was not a mountain lion), they were approaching my position. Male Big Horn Sheep weigh up to 300 pounds and are quite imposing when they are close. I felt they were getting too near for comfort, and I stood up so they would see me. They stopped, and once they realized I was there most of the herd scattered. If you keep watching in the video you will see that the large male and a couple companions did not, however, and stayed back, moving away only after several seconds of being only about fifty feet away.