Alaska’s Dall Sheep

Alaska’s Dall sheep (Ovis dalli dalli) are found in relatively dry alpine country and frequent a special combination of open ridges, meadows and steep slopes with extremely rugged “escape terrain” in the immediate vicinity. Generally known to be high-country animals, they also sometimes occur in rocky gorges below timberline.

Rams, distinguished by massive curling horns, usually weigh less than 300 pounds, while ewes, with shorter, more slender, slightly curved horns, typically reach only half that size.

As the remoteness of their habitat and its unsuitability for human use does much to protect the species, Dall sheep in Alaska are generally in good population health, even though low birth rates, predation (primarily by wolves, coyotes, and eagles), and a difficult environment tend to keep growth rates lower than for many other big-game species. However, their adaptation to the alpine environment seems to serve them well. They have survived for thousands of years and are among the more successful animal groups.

Despite their excellent meat, sheep hunting is mostly limited to a relatively few, hardy individuals whose interest may be more in the challenge and satisfaction of mountain hunting and the alpine experience than in getting food. Recreational hunting is limited to the taking of mature rams during August and September – and in different areas, that may mean rams with a “full curl” or “three-quarter curl” only. The Alaska Game Regulations define a full curl horn as “the horn of a mature Dall sheep, the tip of which has grown through 360 degrees of a circle described by the outer surface of the horn, as viewed from the side or with both horns broken.”

More information on these requirements can be found at Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

Dall Sheep Home Range Map