NPS Photo / Kaitlin Thoresen
Male Dall sheep are called rams and are distinguished from females, called ewes, by their massive curling horns. Adult rams live in bands that seldom associate with ewe groups except during the mating season, or rut, in late November and early December. The head butting that rams are known for is the way males establish their reproductive rank. These clashes occur intermittently throughout the year but are most dramatic during the rut when rams compete with each other to mate with ewes.
Ewes have shorter, more slender, slightly curved horns. Normally, ewes have their first lamb at age 3 and produce one lamb annually. In late May or early June as "lambing" approaches, ewes seek solitude and protection from predators in the most rugged cliffs available on their spring ranges. Ewes produce a single lamb, and the ewe-lamb pairs remain in the "lambing cliffs" a few days until the lambs are strong enough to travel. Lambs begin feeding on vegetation within a week after birth and are usually weaned by October.
The diets of Dall sheep vary from range to range. During summer, food is abundant, and a wider variety of plants are consumed. Winter diet is much more limited and consists primarily of lichen and moss. Dall sheep visit mineral licks during the spring often traveling many miles to eat the soil at these sites.
Did You Know?
Small amounts of airborne pollutants from around the world arrive in Denali every year. Remoteness alone cannot protect the park's clean air. As global human population grows, it is likely that increasing global emissions will affect Denali's air quality.