BOISE, Idaho — The sheep have returned to the foothills north of Boise as the annual migration from Wilder into the high country to allow the flock to graze during the summer months started this week.
Wilder rancher Frank Shirts, the herders and the sheepdogs drive the flock into the foothills in this Idaho tradition that has been happening for more than 100 years.
"It’s like a page out of Idaho history that still occurs today," said Steve Stuebner of the Idaho Rangeland Resources Commission, Steve also has a blog called Life on the Range. "It goes back to Andy Little, the sheep king from Emmett, Idaho and our governor is a direct descendant of Andy Little and Frank actually bought his sheep from Brad Little."
We missed the crossing of Highway 55 on Monday, but if you have never seen this event it draws quite the reaction as a record number of people came out to watch the crossing last year.
The sheep crossed Bogus Basin Road on Tuesday, but this year the herders got a curveball with the weather, but Stuebner tells us the team will take some short-term misery in exchange for the additional moisture in the foothills.
"It’s good for the range and the plants, the sheep can handle it they are sturdy and rugged," said Stuebner. "It's probably pretty tough on the herders, but Frank takes care of his people and his foreman is driving around here making sure they are all taken care of setting up the tent for them, bringing them food and drinks."
Over the next few weeks hikers, bikers and dog owners need to be aware that they may run into the flock in the foothills.
The sheepdogs will protect the herd so Stuebner has tips to protect your dog and yourself.
"They will see your dog as a threat so if you leash your dog it’s all good and that will defuse that situation," said Stuebner. "If you are mountain biking and you run into the sheep just stop, get off your bike and walk through the sheep you might not see the white Pyreneese dog, but they are nearby and they will see you."
Stuebner told us he has been charged by one of those dogs before so it is important to get off your bike and talk to the dog so it knows you are human, the same protocol is recommended for horses as well.