One of the larger inhabitants in the Greater Nahanni Ecosystem is the Dall Sheep. They like to stick to the higher alpine areas and can be found hiding in caves where it is easy to elude predators.
Dall Sheep also happen to be a big prize for hunters. I’ve personally experienced both bragging about finally bagging one, and longing for that elusive prize. Part of the reason for this is because of how small the populations are. Basically, killing even one member can cripple a herd. Quotas are restricted in the US with a special permit and in the North West Territories you need to be a resident – so basically we won’t be hunting any!
Another cool thing about the Dall Sheep is that there are well preserved skeletons that date back over 2,500 years BC. For anyone counting, that’s almost 5,000 years ago! This is due to the fact that they like to hang out in caves, and consequently occasionally die there. Because caves are basically nature’s pantry; cool and dark conditions with not much exposure to the environment, anything that ends up there tends to last a long time.
In Nahanni Park alone, there is a documented 250 caverns and some have been found with over 100 skeletons!
Photos by Mike Boylan, Joseph N Hall, and David McMaster. Used with Creative Commons license. Painting by Raymond Gehman available for sale at this link.