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208 Redial: Annual sheep migration begins

Hundreds of them make their way to the Sun Valley area each year.

BOISE, Idaho — Every year around this time, it's custom for thousands of sheep cross the road near Eagle, all to get to their summer home in the mountains near Sun Valley.

In 2017, we were there as these muttons began their long journey.

Highway 55 is usually for cars, but not today.  

It's really mutton to worry about, it’s just these sheep have got somewhere to go.

Watching the flock takeover the road it really is quite a sight. But not for Wilder rancher Frank Shirts, he's been doing this for a while.

"Oh about 20 years I guess."

Morning traffic took a brief pause, as drivers had no choice but to sit put and watch.

"It's just part of the deal, I enjoy it, I don't like all the headaches and the problems and everything that goes with it, but I like the sheep," Shirts said.

These sheep had a lot to say today, more than 2,000 of them talking over each other as they slowly shuffled across the highway.

Funneling the flock is a real team effort.

Once the sheep cross the road, they are off to their summer home.

"They'll cross over the top, under Bogus Basin there and head into the forests over past Grimes Creek," Shirts said.

But they'll be back.

"Maybe the 10th of October they will come back through here," he said.

Stopping traffic because they can.

That tradition continued despite the pandemic.

Turns out, sheep don't care about your arguments about what is essential or not, it's imperative they migrate.

On Friday morning, near Highway 55 and Beacon Light Road in Eagle, there were hundreds of them, just moving right along.

They'll eventually make their way east into the high country for this annual rite of passage. They typically return in early October.

If you do happen to "graze" upon the flock, make sure to leash your dog if you're out hiking in the foothills, and to either ride slow or dismount if you come across the sheep while biking.

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