Odd ‘white patch’ on Alaskan mountain prompts social media debate: What caused it?

When a “white patch” is found on a mountainside in the middle of an Alaskan summer, even the National Park Service can’t help but pause to ask questions.

The mysterious spot appeared recently at Denali National Park and Preserve, 125 miles south of Fairbanks, and closer inspection revealed it wasn’t snow, park officials said in a Facebook post.

At that point, the National Park Service invited the public to offer ideas.

What caused this white patch on the side of a mountain in Alaska? The National Park Service asked the public to take a guess.

What caused this white patch on the side of a mountain in Alaska? The National Park Service asked the public to take a guess.

“What do you suppose happened here? This white patch of ??? was found half way up the side of Igloo Mountain,” Denali National Park and Preserve posted Sept. 5.

Hundreds tried guessing, with many insisting it was Alaska cotton grass, a series of spider webs or an odd growth of fungus.

“I don’t see any blood, tracks or depressed places were an animal would have laid down. I’m guessing it isn’t animal related,” Cathy Murray posted.

“It’s 2020: I’m sure it’s nothing (guessed) above. It’s gotta be something we all would never get,” Joseph Maresca wrote.

He was right. All those guesses were wrong.

The white patch was fur, and it was found alongside piles of animal poop and a jaw bone loaded with sharp teeth, the park said in an update.

“Here is what we know happened,” the park posted. “A Dall sheep died and was eaten. A wolf or wolves ate most of it. Beyond that, here is what happened as best as we can figure … When a wolf or wolves make a big kill, they can eat up to 20 pounds in one meal! However, when they eat that much, they get very sleepy and lethargic. So much so that they will nap right next to what they killed. … And they will often defecate right next to what they killed.”

Some people were skeptical, however, noting only one bone found. What happened to the rest? And where was all the blood?

Dall sheep can grow to 3 and a half feet in height and weigh 160 pounds, experts say.

“The other bones were carried away by wolves, other scavengers, or perhaps the wolves ate the bones. Wolves can eat bones,” the park posted. “Another possibility is that a wolverine ate the bones once the wolves abandoned the kill or were scared off.”

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