Monday, August 15, 2011

Stone's Sheep of Northern Canada

When you think of sheep in the northern territories, I bet you think of those pretty white Dall's sheep, like this stuffed one in Tok, AK.

Well, here is a new sheep for you animal lovers.

Bet you thought it was a mountain goat, didn't you?
No. It is its own species of sheep. It is the Stone's sheep we saw on our trip up the AlCan.

But what about those short horns? The locals warned me that those close to the road were young and had short horns; many confuse them with some sort of mountain goat.

So, what's the difference? Goats tail point up, sheep's are always down. Goats have beards, sheep do not. And their fur? Goats are hair-like, sheep are supposed to have soft fluffy wool . That doesn't seem to quite fit these guys.

But, check out our pics and you'll see that Stone sheep's look like grey hair in the summer and fluffy wool in the winter. Here are 2 of the 4 we saw. One, still moulting, looks woolly and brown. The other has its summer short grey hair.

And, if you get close, check out their face.

Doesn't that jaw look like an acromegallic (one with too much growth hormone from a pituitary tumor as an adult, causing the jaw to appear larger than you'd expect) ? Well that is just the way these guys look, I guess. At least, most looked that way to me. Cool, isn't it?

As far as being hunted for food, that is apparently not real popular with the locals: it is real hard to spot them and chase them up the mountains. Then, if you succeed, the amount of meat just doesn't seem worth the effort. Better go for a caribou if you see one.

Still, if you are so inclined, this is what you'd be looking for:
something grey against the rocks.

So, pack your rifles (or cameras), and head out for a small area between British Columbia and the Yukon border,' cause that's where they live.

Good luck. And send pictures of your hunt.

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