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Fitness and Photography for Fun - A blog on staying fit by hiking and doing photography by David Mendosa

Stone Sheep

October 1st, 2013 · No Comments

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I found a herd of about 30 Stone Sheep in Stone Mountain Provincial Park. I was en route to Alaska in northern British Columbia, which, except for a small section of the Yukon, is about the only place you can find Stone Sheep, and it’s definitely the only place you can find Stone Mountain Provincial Park (although Georgia has its own Stone Mountain Park).

At first I wondered if the sheep were named for the park or vice versa. After a little digging I found that both the sheep and the mountain are named after Andrew J. Stone, a naturalist who explored northern British Columbia in 1896-97 for the American Museum of Natural History. In fact, some people call these animals Stone’s Sheep.

They are a darker subspecies of the much more common Dall Sheep (formerly Dall’s Sheep) of northwestern North America. The only other wild sheep of North America are the Rocky Mountain Bighorn and their small cousins, the Desert Bighorn.

I also considered that Stone Sheep might have been named for their diet. When I saw them, they seemed to be eating stones. They actually prefer grasses and sedges, and were just licking the stones for their minerals.

A Stone Sheep Family Licks Together

A Stone Sheep Family Licks Together

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The Lamb Peeks from Safety

The Lamb Peeks from Safety

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But This Adult Let Me Get Pretty Close

But This Adult Let Me Get Pretty Close

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And This One Ran

And This One Ran

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I found these rare wild sheep near Summit Pass, which at 4,250 feet is the highest elevation of the entire Alaska Highway and is midway between Fort Nelson, British Columbia, and Watson Lake, Yukon Territory. This section of the Alaska Highway is reputed to be one of the most beautiful stretches of the highway as well as one of the most difficult to build. It was worth the effort.

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