Species / International Ovis

Kolyma Snow Sheep

Ovis nivicola ssp


This sheep is found only in the Magadan Region, and predominately in the Kolyma Mountain Range. The eastern boundary is considered to be the large river valley west of the Koryak Mountains. The northern boundary is considered to be the Chukotka Autonomous Region border. The western boundary is considered to be the border of Yakutia from the Omolon River to the Kolyma River. The western boundary then follows the Kolyma River to the Trans-Siberian Highway. The southern boundary is considered to be the Trans-Siberian Highway, which begins in the city of Magadan. This actually runs in a northerly direction.


Weight 180-230 pounds. Snow sheep have compact, muscular bodies and relatively short legs (compared with other Asian sheep) that are adapted to climbing precipitous terrain. The coat is coarse and brittle, with each hair containing a sealed air pocket that serves as insulation. Hair texture is said to be quite different from that of North American sheep, being thick and wool-like and becoming very long and shaggy in winter. Snow sheep have distinct rump patches, but do not have saddle patches, bibs or neck ruffs. The horns are similar to those of the Dall and Stone sheep of North America, being brown or dark amber in color, fairly heavy and quite smooth, and with the frontal-orbital edge forming a prominent keel.


Steep, rugged terrain with nearby grassy pastures, in alpine and arctic region.


Very few Westerners had the opportunity to hunt snow sheep until 1988, when the Soviet (now Russian) government opened hunting on a limited basis. Since then, hunting for the Kamchatka and Siberian subspecies has become very popular.

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