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Counting Sheep

Bighorn Sheep and Mountain Lions in the American West


Elizabeth Clark
Department of Biology
Washington University in St. Louis


In this case study, students hear arguments on both sides of a debate over wildlife management and must integrate ethical and scientific perspectives to formulate their own opinions. The case as written is most appropriate for an environmental ethics or policy course, but could also be used in an introductory or interdisciplinary environmental studies course.

  • To teach students to formulate an opinion on an issue by taking ethics, science, and politics into consideration.
Keywords: Bighorn sheep; Ovis Canadensis; mountain lion; Puma concolor; predator-prey; predator control; population dynamics; endangered species; extinction; culling; hunting; animal rights; Sierra Nevada Mountains
Topical Area: Ethics, Policy issues, Scientific argumentation, Social issues
Educational Level: High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division
Formats: PDF, PowerPoint
Type/Method: Debate
Language: English
Subject Headings: Environmental Science   Ecology   Wildlife Management  
Date Posted: 04/17/09
Date Modified:
Copyright: Copyright held by the National Center for Case Study Teaching in Science, University at Buffalo, State University of New York. Please see our usage guidelines, which outline our policy concerning permissible reproduction of this work.

Teaching Notes

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Teaching notes are intended to help teachers select and adopt a case. They typically include a summary of the case, teaching objectives, information about the intended audience, details about how the case may be taught, and a list of references and resources.

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Supplemental Materials

This case includes an optional supplemental PowerPoint presentation. It is recommended that instructors either assign a pre-class reading (namely, Martin, G., 1998, "Cougars Wiping Out Sierra Bighorn Sheep, Scientists Say," San Fransisco Chronicle) or use this PowerPoint in class to present the necessary background information for the case.

  Bighorn Power Point

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