For an animal that lives in such rocky and steep country, bighorn sheep are pretty frail and defenseless when put in contact with smaller domestic sheep and goats.
The sheep and goats carry a pneumonia virus that the bighorns have little resistance to, often proving fatal.
“This is an ongoing controversy,” said Kevin Hurley, conservation director for the Wild Sheep Foundation. “Thirteen of 15 western states that have bighorn sheep have had pneumonia die-offs. It’s a pretty ubiquitous situation.”
A recent analysis by the National Wildlife Federation, titled “Bighorns Risks: Identifying Risks Posed by Domestic Sheep,” is an attempt by a group of wildlife organizations to shine a spotlight on Montana’s iconic bighorn sheep herds and propose ways to protect and grow their populations.
Read more here.
(Feature photo via Trapline Photography)
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