Western Washington's bighorns slammed by disease

Another 2010-was-a-deadly-year-for-bighorn story-

The culprit is almost entirely pneumonia, and almost all of it, maybe all of it, comes from domestic sheep and goats.  The Western Watersheds Project, and closely related groups like Advocates for the West, are  just about the only organizations that are willing to step forward, tell the truth, and go after the offending herds of livestock.  I hope folks will consider and give WWP and Advocates a donation if the appalling death tool of bighorn sheep in the West bothers you. Ralph Maughan

Western Washington’s bighorns slammed by disease. Outdoors Blog. The Spokesman Review.

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Related Dec. 31. Bighorn sheep killed on Montana highway one. AP (in Great Falls Tribune).  I remember posting an almost identical story for the same place a couple years ago.  Some money needs to be spent at this location.    “a state wildlife biologist says between four to 15 of the animals are killed every year [at this location]*



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  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I wish the study, done by Washington State University that proved Bighorns catch pneumonia from domestic sheep, had left the Domestic sheep and Bighorns separated by the fence instead of letting them co-mingle.
    If it can be proved that just touching noses with domestic sheep through a fence is enough to cause the Bighorns to die, then we could start asking that all domestic sheep operations, in areas occupied by Bighorns, be required to double fence all domestic sheep pastures. This should include small farm flocks as well as large domestic sheep operations.
    I would like to see this study done again without commingling and expanded to include exposure to llamas and goats.
    I think it would be also be useful to see if Bighorns can catch the disease by being exposed to areas where domestic sheep have been pastured and bedded down. I think they catch pneumonia from domestic sheep much easier than has been demonstrated.
    Until there is complete separation between domestic sheep and Bighorns this tragic story will continue.


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