Organism ID'd that may be killing bighorn sheep

It is a bacteria called mycoplasma ovipneumoniae. It is apparently common in domestic sheep and goats, but easily causes fatal pneumonia in bighorn sheep. Story Organism ID’d That May Be Killing Bighorn Sheep. By Keith Ridgler. AP. (as printed in the Seattle Post Intelligencer).

“All indications are that the domestics are passing diseases and killing off the bighorns,” said [Greg] Dyson [Hells Canyon Preservation Council]. “And the bighorns just can’t get a foothold to become re-established. There have been entire herds that have died off.”

In May a lawsuit by the Western Watersheds Project, and two other groups, forced the Forest Service to stop their planned turnout of domestic sheep into the range of the struggling bighorn in Hells Canyon on the Idaho/Oregon border.

If people want to see a more general restoration of bighorn sheep on their public lands, the bands of domestic sheep in these territories simply have to go.

See earlier stories.







  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    I have, on many occasions, heard livestock producers claim that they would never let their diseased livestock intermingle with wildlife. Basically they are making an argument against letting buffalo leave Yellowstone Park but when you see stories like this they are obviously lying.

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think it’s the case they won’t allow any risk that bison will infect livestock (even though the bison were originally infected by livestock), but if livestock infect wildlife, hey that’s just too damn bad!

  3. kt Avatar

    And if people want to get some kind of idea of the horrible conditions and potential CATTLE TO WILDLIFE disease transmission associated with water sources on public lands that wildlife face every day, look at the photo Ralph posted here: .

    I wonder what effects drinking this manure and hormone implant excretion brine has on Sage Grouse, Antelope, Bighorn Sheep? No wonder research in Owyhee County that has never really seen the light of day due to agency fear of the cattlemen wreaking political vengeance showed that when cattle were turned out into an area, bighorns moved out …

    It is not just the domestic sheep transmission of diseases from public lands grazing by sheep that affects bighorns – it is the presence of cattle, too.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan