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Stone Sheep along the Alaska Highway
Stone Sheep along the Alaska Highway

Stone Sheep along the Alaska Highway

Driving up the Alaska Highway one can often see Stone sheep right on the road near Stone Mountain in British Columbia.  


When slowing down or stopping to take photos, always be sure to find a safe place to pull completely off the highway, as there can be heavy truck and other traffic.


It is thought that North American wild sheep are related to the primitive native sheep of Central Asia, which migrated about half a million years ago into North America via the Bering land bridge. As the climate cooled, those animals became isolated in two ice-free areas, one in central Alaska and the other south of the Columbia and Snake Rivers in the northwest US.  Sheep in the Alaska region evolved into the slender-horned Dall sheep, while those farther south gradually became the heavy-horned Rocky Mountain and Desert Bighorns. 
Over time, two subspecies of Dall sheep evolved: the white Dall, which now ranges across Alaska into the Yukon and the western part of the Northwest Territories. Its much darker, iron-grey cousin is the Stone, or black Dall sheep, which makes its home in northern British Columbia and southern Yukon.  In the Pelly Mountain area of the Yukon, black and white Dall sheep have produced the Fannin, or saddle-backed sheep, which has a white head, neck and rump, but a gray body.
Mountain sheep are very agile, second only to bounding mountain goats in their ability to climb steep terrain, and have extremely acute eyesight, detecting slight movement at great distances.
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