Protecting our wild sheep from disease

The Government of Yukon is putting rules in place to keep all domestic sheep and goats separate from wild sheep and goats to reduce the risk of transmitting respiratory disease to wildlife.

The Control Order, scheduled to take effect January 1, 2020, includes conditions for the keeping of domestic sheep and goats, such as approved enclosures, permanent identification, record keeping, annual testing for diseases, permits for movement, and measures for dealing with escaped animals.

Owners of sheep and goats are encouraged to contact the Animal Health Unit and Agriculture Branch for more information and to access government support to comply with the order.

We share our environment and our lives with wild and domestic animals, and they are an integral part of the lives of many Yukoners. The spread of respiratory disease could devastate Yukon’s iconic thinhorn sheep population and we need to take preventative measures. We will continue to support our livestock owners to keep all our animals safe and healthy.

Minister of Environment Pauline Frost

The Government of Yukon is committed to growing the territory’s economy in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. This Control Order shows dedication to responsible livestock production in Yukon and will set a new standard in sheep and goat production in Canada. It will also help to build a strong platform for cooperation between the agriculture industry and those in support of wild sheep and goat conservation.

Minister of Energy, Mines and Resources Ranj Pillai

Quick facts 
  • The budget for implementation of the Control Order is $752,000 over six years, ending in 2024. This includes the salary of an inspector, compensation for destroyed animals, annual testing of sheep and goats, and funding for required fencing.

  • Owners have until January 1, 2020, to be in compliance with the terms of the Control Order.

  • After that date, there may still be support for fencing available through other programs offered by the Agriculture Branch.

  • The Agriculture Branch offers funding through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership specifically in the Wildlife Damage Prevention Program to reduce negative interactions and preventable loss between livestock and wildlife.

  • Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi) is a bacterium that causes respiratory disease, including pneumonia. This bacterium has been identified as the primary cause of major disease outbreaks in wild bighorn sheep, which are closely related to thinhorn sheep. Contact with domestic sheep and goats has been identified as one of the main risk factors for outbreaks of pneumonia in wild sheep and goats.

Media contact 

Janine Workman
Cabinet Communications
(867) 393-7449

Erin Loxam
Communications, Environment
(867) 393-7442

Rod Jacob
Communications, Energy, Mines and Resources
(867) 667-3005

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