Moose, bighorns learn from elders, study finds

Moose (Alces alces) and bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), pass on knowledge from generation to generation about where to find food on springtime migrations, researchers have found. Tracking 267 bighorns and 189 moose in Wyoming, Idaho and South Dakota, they tested the idea that the ungulates follow their elders’ knowledge. Examining herds that had been established for at least 200 years and others that had only recently been introduced, the team found that the longer a herd had been established, the better the animals were at finding the best forage. More established herds were also more like to migrate than recently introduced ones. The researchers speculate young moose and bighorns watch and learn from older individuals. Since it may take decades for herds to establish a new route, researchers concluded, it’s particularly important to protect migration corridors.

Read more from The Associated Press or find the study in Science.

Header Image: A moose grazes in Wyoming. ©Mark Gunn