Sheep hunting closure in Game Management Subzone 5–17 to conserve sheep in southwest Yukon starting August 1, 2024

Map of Game Management Subzone 5-17 (the Donjek Sheep Management Unit) in the Kluane region of southwest Yukon.

In efforts to support sheep population recovery, the Government of Yukon has issued a sheep hunting closure for Game Management Subzone 5 – 17, representing the Donjek Sheep Management Unit. The closure is in effect from August 1, 2024, until October 31, 2026. While in effect, all licensed hunters are prohibited from harvesting sheep in this area.

This decision follows the release of population surveys from 2022 and 2023 that showed concerning declines of sheep populations in the area. Specifically, the Donjek Sheep Management Unit showed a 63 per cent decline compared to a 2015 survey. The closure decision is also informed by consultation and engagement initiated in November 2023 with the local Yukon First Nations, Renewable Resources Councils, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board and impacted stakeholder groups.  This process welcomed input on possible management actions to conserve sheep populations in five surveyed Sheep Management Units: Brooks Arm, Ruby Range, Donjek, Nutzotin and Flat Top.

Feedback from these consultations highlighted the need for further discussions on appropriate long-term conservation and management actions to support healthy, sustainable sheep populations in these Sheep Management Units.

The Government of Yukon, local Yukon First Nations, Renewable Resources Councils, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, Parks Canada Agency and the Kluane National Park Management Board have signed a memorandum of understanding and will continue working together on further management actions, including the development of a long-term sheep conservation and management plan for the southwest Yukon.

Thinhorn sheep are an iconic species in the Yukon, and we are committed to protecting them today and for future generations. Wildlife conservation in the Yukon is a joint effort and I want to thank our partners for working together to identify a path toward protecting the Yukon’s thinhorn sheep populations in a way that benefits all Yukoners.

Minister of Environment Nils Clarke 

Kluane First Nation welcomes recent progress toward long-term sheep conservation and management in southwest Yukon. The decision by co-management partners to temporarily close the Donjek Sheep Management Unit is a step toward rebuilding this vulnerable sheep population. Kluane First Nation citizens have a special relationship with wild sheep and want to ensure that hunting opportunities continue to exist for future generations of hunters.

Kluane First Nation Kwänathi inlį Bob Dickson

The Donjek Sheep Management Unit is home to a small, vulnerable sheep population. This closure is a temporary measure intended to conserve Dall sheep in the area while we work towards other solutions and long-term management planning. Increased monitoring is necessary to improve our understanding of the population's dynamics. However, we know that sheep in this region need our help, and we appreciate Yukoners’ support of these conservation efforts

Chair of the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, Michelle Dawson-Beattie

Co-management partners are working together to address declining sheep issues in the Kluane Region, and a closure of the Donjek Sheep Management Unit for the next two hunting seasons is viewed as a good step at the present time.

Co-Chair of the Dän Keyi Renewable Resources Council, Sian Williams 

Quick facts 
  • When a conservation concern is identified in the Yukon, the Government of Yukon works together with local Yukon First Nations, Renewable Resources Councils and the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board as per Chapter 16 of the Umbrella Final Agreement.

  • The Government of Yukon consulted with Kluane First Nation, White River First Nation, Champagne and Aishihik First Nations, the Dän Keyi and Alsek Renewable Resources Councils, the Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board, Parks Canada and the Kluane National Park Management Board to make this decision.

  • The Government of Yukon also welcomed feedback from impacted stakeholders, including affected outfitters in the area, the Yukon Fish and Game Association, the Wild Sheep Foundation, the Yukon Outfitters Association, the Yukon Conservation Society and the Wildlife Conservation Society Canada – Yukon Chapter.

  • The Science-based guidelines for the management of thinhorn sheep in the Yukon recommend against harvest of sheep populations that are very small or believed to be in serious decline. 

Media contact 

Laura Seeley
Cabinet Communications
867-332-7627
[email protected]

Kyle Nightingale
Communications, Environment
867-334-5922
[email protected]

Diane Sheldon
Office Manager, Yukon Fish and Wildlife Management Board
[email protected]
(867)-393-6292

Kristy Kennedy
Lands, Resources and Heritage Manager
Kluane First Nation
[email protected]
867-334-1397

News release #: 
24-279