Pneumonia Confirmed in Cinnabar Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Very bad news from just outside of Yellowstone National Park.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks :: Pneumonia Confirmed in Cinnabar Mountain Bighorn Sheep.

Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks :: Pneumonia Confirmed in Cinnabar Mountain Bighorn Sheep

Friday, December 09, 2011
Fish & Wildlife – Region 3
Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks confirms the discovery of pneumonia in the Cinnabar Mountain bighorn sheep herd near Corwin Springs earlier this week.

A report was made to FWP Monday about sheep coughing at Cinnabar Mountain. An FWP field biologist responded by observing the herd and evaluating the likelihood of the presence of pneumonia. Following the observation, two lambs were lethally removed on site and brought to the state wildlife lab in Bozeman for examination. Evidence of pneumonia was present in lungs of both lambs.

Region 3 Supervisor Pat Flowers said today, “FWP is currently assessing the extent of the affected sheep in order to determine the appropriate response actions. Those actions might include culling in order to prevent the spread of the disease to healthy animals.”

There are no known vaccines to prevent pneumonia in wild sheep. In extreme cases, pneumonia-related outbreaks can result in herd “die-offs.” Since 1984, there have been pneumonia related die-offs in 14 bighorn sheep populations in Montana. In the 1990’s Montana lost 1400 bighorn sheep due to pneumonia. Over 600 Montana bighorn sheep were lost to pneumonia in 2010 alone. Most pneumonia related die-offs have occurred in transplanted herds. The Cinnabar herd is part of a native population, and has never experienced a pneumonia outbreak.

FWP reminds hunters and others who might recreate in the area that it is illegal to possess a bighorn sheep head picked up in the wild. If dead or sick bighorn sheep are discovered, please contact FWP Region 3 Headquarters in Bozeman at (406) 994-4042.


  1. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I see Bighorns along the highway every fall when I drive through the Corwin Springs area. I see them near Yankee Jim Canyon as well.
    Bighorns come out of Yellowstone to winter directly across the Yellowstone River on the CUT ranch property and adjacent USFS land. It will only be a matter of time before an infected Bighorn crosses the bridge there or swims the river and spreads the disease. All of the Yellowstone Bighorns are at risk.

    Does anyone know if there are domestic sheep in the Yankee Jim-Corwin Springs-Gardiner areas?

  2. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan

    Talk about bad news! We could lose Yellowstone Park’s bighorn sheep.

    If that happens, there must be a reintroduction. It is intolerable.

  3. Ethan Edwards Avatar
    Ethan Edwards

    It would be especially bad to lose a native population of BHS. I would be interested to see if there were domestics grazing in the area of the outbreak as Larry questioned.

  4. Nancy Avatar

    A gift that gives back to wildlife?


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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