Dall’s Sheep

Dall's Sheep.

Name

  • Common name: Dall’s Sheep
  • Scientific name: Ovis dalli dalli
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae

Also known as

Thinhorn Sheep, Dall Sheep

Viewing opportunities

  • Sheep Mountain in Kluane National Park and Reserve is a population location for viewing Dall’s Sheep.
  • Highway travelers can set up spotting scopes trained to south-facing slopes or alpine meadows for sneak peak at sheep. Keep an eye out for small patches of snow on the mountainside that suddenly start to move.
  • Venturing into the alpine for a day hike will give you the greatest chance at seeing sheep. Bring your binoculars to have a look as it is best to not get too close.

Description

  • All white fur with tan coloured horns.
  • Male Dall’s Sheep have thick horns that grow larger and spiral with age.
  • Female horns remain small and slender.
  • Fannin sheep are Dall’s sheep with grey or brown coat coloration.
  • Fannin sheep are essentially a hybrid between Dall’s and Stone’s sheep, however taxonomically Fannin sheep are of the Dall’s sub-species called O. d. dalli.
  • The range of differing coat color patterns can be wide and Fannin sheep are often misidentified as Stone’s sheep.
  • Fannin sheep are typically found in the Cassiar and Pelly Mountains.

Fast facts

  • Height: 1.5 m
  • Weight: 46 to 110 kg
  • Habitat: Mountain Alpine
  • Lifespan: 14 years
  • Predators: Wolves, bears, Wolverines, Golden Eagles

Conservation status

What is conservation status?

  • Yukon: S4 (Apparently Secure)
  • Global: G5T5 (Secure/Sub-population Secure)

Yukon population estimate

20,000.

Behaviour

Thinhorn Sheep spend the summer grazing in alpine meadows atop the peaks. In the fall the sheep move to their winter range a few kilometers away where the wind keeps the snow shallow and the sun warms south facing slopes. They will use the same migration routes for generations and return to the same protective cliffs to give birth to their lambs every year.

Diet

Grasses, twigs, leaves, buds, Pasture Sage.

Distribution

Dall's Sheep distribution map.

Sights and sounds

Dall's Sheep track.
Dall's Sheep track: 14.8 x 6 cm.
Mineral licks.
Mineral licks.
Scat.
Dall's Sheep scat: 0.8 cm long.

Sheep and people

  • Thinhorn Sheep have long been prized for their delicious meat. First Nations would traditionally hunt sheep with bow and arrows or set snares along frequented travel routes. Sheep fleece was used to make blankets, jackets and winter pants. Horns used for ladles and dishes.
  • During the Gold Rush years sheep populations were nearly wiped out from the demand for meat to feed the new settlements. Later, road crews building the highways also greatly decreased sheep numbers.
  • Today sheep numbers have recovered through protection and management considerations, though not to their original numbers.