Dall sheep

Their horns come in handy during mating season and as a line of defense against wolves and bears

Jacob W. Frank

Dall sheep


Their horns come in handy during mating season and as a line of defense against wolves and bears

Population 96,000 – 126,000

Dall sheep, the majestic inhabitants of the mountainous terrains of Alaska, Canada, and the Yukon, stand as a testament to the resilience and beauty of wildlife adapted to harsh, unforgiving environments. These remarkable animals, with their striking snow-white coats, are a wonder to behold and a vital part of the ecosystem they inhabit. Their coats provide camouflage against the snow-covered landscapes and insulation against the biting cold, making them well-suited to the challenges of mountain life.

Growing up to 127 cm (50 inches) in length, their spiral horns serve as symbols of age, vigor, and status within their social hierarchies. Used in dramatic clashes during the mating season, these horns are not just for show; they play a crucial role in the natural selection process, determining which males get the opportunity to pass on their genes.

Living in such rugged terrains, Dall sheep have evolved several physical adaptations that enable them to thrive. Their specialized hooves are a case in point. Split and rubbery, these hooves provide the grip needed to navigate the steep, rocky cliffs of their mountain homes. This adaptation, combined with their incredible agility and the ability to leap up to 4 meters (12 feet) in a single bound, allows them to access the most precarious feeding sites and escape predators with astonishing ease.

Despite their adaptations and the remoteness of their habitats, Dall sheep face significant challenges that threaten their survival. Habitat loss, driven by human encroachment and the development of their natural environments, poses a significant risk, disrupting their feeding grounds and breeding areas. Climate change further exacerbates these challenges, altering the ecosystems on which Dall sheep depend and introducing new stresses on their populations. Hunting, while regulated, remains a concern, particularly when not conducted sustainably, potentially impacting the delicate balance of these mountain ecosystems.


Population est.
46,000 – 62,000
Official estimate
United States
50,000 – 64,000
Official estimate

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Terrestrial / Aquatic

Altricial / Precocial

Polygamous / Monogamous

Dimorphic (size) / Monomorphic

Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal

Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd

Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore

Migratory: Yes / No

Domesticated: Yes / No

Dangerous: Yes / No