Pneumonia in bighorn has now spread to Rock Creek-

It just keeps getting worse for the bighorn hit by the pneumonia outbreak near Missoula. Bighorn sheep in Rock Creek latest hit by fatal pneumonia outbreak. By Rob Chaney. Missoulian.

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Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to Bighorn east of Missoulia are dying like flies

  1. Fish and Game Departments need to take another look at what is killing the sheep. Mycoplasmas have been implicated in some of the Hell’s Canyon die-offs. Mycoplasmas that cause mastitis and pneumonia in cattle can be spread by dairy workers. If these sheep have been handled lately by researchers, someone should be looking at the possibility of disease tranmission by sloppy sanitation procedures by research personnel. The possibility that humans can be infected and transmit these diseases without getting sick themselves is a distinct possibility. Don’t let these people, that are handling the sick sheep they are shooting, near a healthly herd.

  2. avatar Tom Woodbury says:

    Is it really a mystery why these sheep are dying? 3 herds affected. I know that with the E. Bitterroot and Bonner herds, there are private sheep ranches very close to their habitat. We’re talking no safe buffer zones here. I’m not sure at this point about disease vectors for the Rock Creek herd, but I’m willing to bet its the same situation. Of course, as the Woolgrowers are involved in all press communications, as required by the new conservation strategy, it is portrayed as a big mystery. In spite of the close proximity of BHS and domestic sheep ranch on Marshall Mountain and in the EFBR, we’re told there is no evidence that livestock have played any role in either of the die-offs. In fact, according to FWP, the “biggest factors” in the Bonner herd die-offs are “the attraction bignorns had to the fertilized grass, pet food and salt blocks they found in the neighborhood.” Can someone please explain to me which of those is a disease vector for pneumonia?

  3. avatar kt says:

    Has the Forest or other land agency (state lands?) authorized any domestic sheep or goat “weed control” grazing in this Rock Creek area?

  4. avatar Mike says:

    This is awful. I spent some time with the Rock Creek herd this fall. Their habitat is perfect *except* for the fact that on lower Rock Creek road there are a few sheep ranches. I’ve seen the bighorn eating from the same grass that sheep were just the day before.

  5. avatar Ken Cole says:

    “We’re wondering if there’s some perfect storm – some ideal set of environmental circumstances favoring the pathogens”

    I think the “environmental circumstances favoring the pathogens” are called domestic sheep.

  6. avatar Tom Woodbury says:

    Exactly, Ken. KT, as far as I am aware, we are talking about private ranches, not public leaseholds. Unfortunately, at the time these herds were re-introduced, people were still in the dark about the role of domestic sheep in wiping out BHS.

  7. avatar Nathan Hobbs says:

    This is very sad news indeed 🙁

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

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