Montana Fish, Wildlife & Park’s is delaying its plan to capture and transplant 40-50 bighorn sheep from the Quake Lake area to the Wolf Creek Drainage of the Madison Mountains.
Over the last three weeks, FWP has confirmed 3 bighorn deaths due to pneumonia in the Quake Lake herd. Bighorn herds can see low levels of pneumonia-related deaths, but occasionally pneumonia can become epidemic and result in significant die-off events. FWP does not want to risk moving potentially sick animals. To optimize the transplant success, FWP carefully considered risks and benefits, and decided to revisit the decision to relocate bighorns in 2015.
The Quake Lake herd still numbers close to 200 animals and FWP biologists will continue to monitor the population closely for further losses. If those losses are minimal, FWP will resume the transplant operation under the current plan in winter of 2015.
The goal of the transplant is to increase the overall herd size in the Madison, establish a new wintering area in the Madison for bighorn sheep, and restore a native species to the area.
(Report by Montana FWP; Cover photo: Montana FWP)