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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.


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 Areas

Ethics, Policy issues, Scientific argumentation, Social issues

Educational Level

High school, Undergraduate lower division, Undergraduate upper division


PDF, PowerPoint

Type / Methods




Subject Headings

Environmental Science  |   Ecology  |   Wildlife Management  |  

Date Posted


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.

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 Francisco Chronicle) or use this PowerPoint in class to present the necessary background information for the case.

  Bighorn Power Point