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WSF Concludes Third Thinhorn Summit

May 10, 2022
posted in: News

Bozeman, Montana. May 10, 2022. The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) recently concluded hosting its third summit in the past decade focused on Dall's and Stone's sheep conservation. The first two summits were held in 2014 and 2017 in British Columbia and Alaska, respectively. This year's gathering was in Whitehorse, Yukon and welcomed over 110 participants with 25 others joining via Zoom.

"This was an all stakeholders gathering of some of the brightest minds in wild sheep conservation today," said Gray N. Thornton, President and CEO of the Wild Sheep Foundation. "From state and provincial wildlife professionals, First Nations representatives, WSF Chapter and Affiliate reps, students, guides and outfitters, and local sportsmen and women, we all came together with an emphasis to do more for the wild sheep of Alaska, the Yukon, Northwest Territories, and British Columbia."

The agenda for the two-day Summit included a review of challenges and opportunities presented and discussed at the previous two Summits, and actions that had taken place since. The overall goal is to enhance and expand Thinhorn populations throughout their range. There were enlightening multi-jurisdictional presentations on predator control and management, access and travel management, pathogen surveillance, and new strategies to maintain and achieve disease-free Thinhorn sheep. Other presentations and discussions included:

Population status, trends and estimates, 
Habitat needs, management, and addressing the impacts of changing climate
First Nations cultural perspectives and insights, and roles in wild sheep management
Harvest history and projections

Thornton said, "Our purpose for the first Summit in 2014 was to prioritize actions to ensure Dall's and Stone's sheep did not face the same challenges of pathogen transfer and subsequent disease and die-offs as their bighorn cousins to the south." 

"Since that initial Summit, tangible progress has been made in the conservation and management of Dall's and Stone's sheep in the North", added Kevin Hurley, principal organizer of this third Summit, and WSF Thinhorn Sheep program lead. "Particularly with respect to pathogen surveillance and thinhorn sheep health, collectively, the northern jurisdictions have made great strides in the past decade, and WSF acknowledges, thanks, and welcomes this heightened focus."

Priorities and actions identified from this third summit will help continue the focus on this incredible wildlife resource.

Key Actions & Takeaways were:

Revision/update on NWT Wildlife Act to better manage the risk of contact from domestic to wild sheep
The Yukon Control Order has significantly reduced the risk of contact in the territory 
Alaska now has heightened regulations on the import & testing of any domestic sheep or goats brought in from outside the state
Northern BC has implemented regulatory measures in large portions of the province to reduce the risk of contact from domestic sheep and goats to wild sheep
BC is very close to coming out with its comprehensive THS Mgt Plan for the province, including close coordination with First Nations

"It is heartening to see the actions borne from the previous Summits being implemented in Thinhorn range today and new ideas and a heightened sense of collaboration going forward, all to ensure Dall's and Stone's remain healthy," Thornton concluded.


The Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF), based in Bozeman, Mont., was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. With a membership of more than 10,000 worldwide, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep and other mountain wildlife and their habitats. WSF has raised and expended more than $136 million on wild sheep habitat and population enhancements, education, and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe, and Asia to “Put and Keep Wild Sheep On the Mountain”®. These and other efforts have increased bighorn sheep populations in North America from historic lows in the 1950-60s of 25,000 to more than 85,000 today.

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