A new sort of breed?
Alpacas, such as these ones from local breeder Eagle Valley Alpacas, are no longer allowed to be imported from South America. Photo by Trish Gannon.
The Sandpoint area is known for all sorts of animals wild and domestic so its not surprising to drive down the road and see, grazing in the fields, alpaca. This unusual looking animal is prized for its gentle temperament, ease of care and earth-friendly lifestyle not to mention its wool.
That wool is part of the reason why three ranches in the Sandpoint area raise them: Eagle Valley Alpacas, Lakeview Fiber Ranch and Snowmass Alpacas. Native to Peru, Bolivia and Chile, alpacas are much smaller than the similar llama, standing only 3 feet at the withers on average. The huacaya alpaca, the predominant U.S. breed, has a dense, thick and crimpy coat that comes in 22 basic colors with dozens of variations. Theyre said to resemble a teddy bear when in full coat.
Sheared annually, alpaca wool is classified as a rare, specialty fiber that is five times warmer than sheeps wool and more luxurious than cashmere, and is growing in popularity.