Dall Sheep Fun Facts and Information

Adult Dall Sheep on MountainDall sheep live in the arctic and subarctic mountains of Alaska, the Yukon, British Columbia, and Canada’s Northwest Territories. Their habitat must include meadows for grazing and rugged ground and cliffs for escaping predators. Throughout most of the year, rams and ewes live separately from one another. Rams prefer areas with plenty of food year-round, while ewes move away from the open meadows once lambs are born in the spring, preferring areas close to cliffs and other escape routes.

While some Dall sheep are sedentary, most move through different ranges throughout the year. Rams have six different ranges they occupy throughout the year and ewes have four. Lambs inherit their ranges from their mother. They will return to the same places year after year.



Adult Dall SheepDall sheep are the only species of thinhorn mountain sheep. While ewes’ horns are smaller and slender, rams’ horns eventually grow to be large, forming a circle, and can make up 10% of their body weight. It is possible to count the age of a Dall sheep by counting the rings on their horns. Every winter, their horns stop growing. This creates a pattern of rings called annuli.

Both rams and ewes butt heads and otherwise combat one another. Some of these other behaviors include kicking and intimidation by bluffing. In rams’ herds, they fight to maintain order and establish a social hierarchy, not to fight over a mate. Ewes fight one another over food or bedding. Even lambs play by practice fighting.



Baby Dall SheepEven though rams can hypothetically father lambs by the time they are two years old, most wait until they achieve social dominance, usually after five years of age. Ewes can give birth by age three or four. Usually a single lamb is born, although twins do occasionally occur. Lambs are born in May or June. They can stand within half an hour of birth and can walk well enough to follow their mother within a day. They begin to feed on vegetation in the first two weeks and are totally weaned at three to five months.

In some portions of their range, Dall sheep are considered at-risk. Fragmented habitats and the building of roads pose threats to their populations. Hunting, although unfortunately still legal, is restricted and tightly regulated in both Alaska and Canada. In most of their range, however, dall sheep are still flourishing and the habitat has been largely untouched by humans.


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