Why Sheep Started So Many Wars in the American West

In early October, when the leaves turn golden and the shadows of the Sawtooth Mountains lengthen, the annual Trailing of the Sheep Festival moves through south central Idaho. The festival, complete with a sheep parade, sheepdog trials, and a wool fest, celebrates the long relationship between sheep and their human companions.  Sun Valley, Idaho, is synonymous with New West wealth, but it sits in the Wood River Valley, where more humble ranchers and farmers have long made their living. In the 1990s, as bike paths shouldered their way along a historic sheep driveway, local community members sought a way to minimize conflict between recreation and sheepherding. Hence the festival, a modern palliative to the centuries-old range wars that have occurred on sheep-raising land in the West. “Every year our sheep are forced to travel farther and wider through the hills to avoid new housing developments and populated hiking and camping areas,” writes Diane Josephy Peavey, an Idahoan sheep farmer, who was … Continue reading Why Sheep Started So Many Wars in the American West