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British Columbia Bighorn Sheep Fighting Psoroptic Mange

A new disease is threatening bighorn sheep in British Columbia. 

Hunters, biologists and conservationists that are familiar with the bighorn sheep know how sensitive sheep can be to disease, usually pneumonia, but a new disease has reared its ugly head in British Columbia’s bighorn and it’s called psoroptic mange.

While there have been cases of psoroptic mange in bighorn sheep in the U.S., this is the first case in Canada and biologists are unsure how the disease made its way to British Columbia or how it will affect the wildlife. So far, it has only been discovered in the herd of sheep in the South Okanagan Similkameen (SOKS) range.

The disease is considered an animal welfare issue due to the intense pain and irritation caused by the mites that come with the mange.

Photo from SOKS Bighorn Sheep Psoroptes Project
SOKS Bighorn Sheep Psoroptes Project

Thankfully, the SOKS Bighorn Sheep Psoroptes Project has been established. They are working on learning more about the disease and will keep a close eye on the SOKS bighorn sheep.

Their field work started in February 2015, where they GPS radio-collared 27 sheep and will continue to monitor the health of the herd.

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British Columbia Bighorn Sheep Fighting Psoroptic Mange