Dall's Sheep

Description

Dall's sheep are medium-sized hoofed animals and one of the most spectacular mammals found in alpine regions. Rams weigh between 80 and 100 kg, with ewes smaller at 60 kg. Both rams and ewes grow horns throughout their lives. The horns of ewes are less curved, shorter (about 25 cm in length) and more slender than a ram’s horns.

Dall's Sheep

Grasses and sedges make up about 70 percent of their diet, which can vary by area. The leaves and stems of some shrubs and certain flowering plants may be seasonally important. Sheep paw through the snow in winter to get at lichens and mosses.

Distribution

In the Northwest Territories, Dall's sheep are found in the Mackenzie Mountains west of the Mackenzie River and in the Richardson Mountains, primarily on Mount Goodenough, or “Black Mountain”, as it is called locally. Mount Goodenough is about 50 km southwest of Aklavik.

Dall's Sheep distribution NWT

Habitat

Individual Dall's sheep confine most their movements to a particular mountain block or range, which contains both the winter and summer range. This loyalty to seasonal ranges and one mountain block means populations are slow to recover if they have been reduced for some reason. The sheep are very sensitive to intense human activity on their ranges, and are reluctant to move from their terrain when roads, mines and camps appear on the scene.

Generally, rams older than four years, and ewes, remain in separate groups. These older rams often roam in small groups of three to 10 individuals but can sometimes be found alone. Ewe groups tend to be larger and contain young rams, yearlings and lambs of the year.

Diseases

Dall’s sheep in the NWT are generally healthy; however, they are hosts for a variety of parasites. Protostrongylus stilesi or sheep lungworm is present in almost all Dall’s sheep in the Mackenzie and Richardson Mountains. Lungworm has been linked to pneumonia outbreaks and die-offs of bighorn sheep in southern North America. No die-offs have been detected in Dall's sheep in the NWT and the populations appear stable.

Contagious ecthyma found in Dall's sheep in the NWT can occasionally infect other ungulates including caribou and muskox. This virus causes scabby lesions most commonly found on the lips, mouth and skin of the face, around the edge of the hooves, and on the udder, vulva or pizzle. This virus can infect people. Care must be taken when handling obviously infected animals.

Harvesting

Dall's sheep hunting season for resident and non-resident hunters is July 15th to October 31st. Hunters are limited to one adult male Dall's sheep per season with a minimum 3/4 curl in the horns. Non-residents must hunt with a licensed outfitter.

Hunting in the Richardson Mountains is restricted to general hunting licence holders and the annual harvest is very small. In the Mackenzie Mountains, General Hunting Licence holders harvest about 20-30 sheep per year.

Information on tag fees, trophy feeds, bag limit, season and hunting areas for harvesting dall's sheep in the NWT can be found in the NWT Hunting Guide.