What’s killing bighorn sheep in Wyoming?
Scientists have trapped, studied and will monitor bighorn sheep in Wyoming to try and determine what is factoring in their recent die-offs, according to a piece from Missoulian.com.
Game wardens, veterinarians and wildlife disease specialists with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department conducted the trap, measure, tag and release process of six females last Sunday when the story was released. It is part of the state’s on going procedures working towards finding out what is weighing in on a decrease of the bighorn populations in Wyoming, where they were once amongst the most prevalent species.
Pneumonia has been known as a common death factor for bighorn sheep, but scientists aren’t exactly sure what combination of parasites, bacteria, weather, habitat and overcrowding makes them particularly sensitive to the illness.
Blood and fecal tests were taken during the trapping, along with nasal, ear and throat swabs. The ewes were given antibiotic and antiparasitic shots before being tagged with a radio transmitter and released.
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It’s believed that long lasting unregulated hunting mixed in with habitat destruction and disease transmitted by domestic sheep initially moved bighorn populations to the most rugged and difficult to reach terrain. While unregulated hunting is mostly a thing of the past, disease and other determinants still have an impact on bighorn sheep in Wyoming.
The three-year study will take data from tested sheep near Dubois, Cody, Saville Canyon and the Black Hills in a cooperative effort between Colorado, Wyoming and Montana.