Infected Bighorn Sheep
4:26 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

WA Wildlife Managers To Euthanize Bighorn Sheep

Wildlife managers are euthanizing bighorn sheep in central Washington. A herd has been infected with a disease that causes pneumonia.

A herd of bighorn sheep has been infected with a disease that causes pneumonia.
Credit Matthew Zalewski / Wikimedia Commons

In wild bighorn sheep, this disease is most often fatal. There are no treatments or preventive measures. It has significantly reduced one herd in central Washington. The numbers have dwindled from 200 to fewer than 50.

Richard Harris is a wildlife manager with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife. He says biologists recently have seen many sheep coughing and in poor condition.

“It looks to us that this disease has been around for awhile," Harris says. "We’ve seen almost as many carcasses as live sheep. So there’s animals that are dying already. We suspect that a good chunk, and perhaps all, of the Tieton herd has been infected.”

Harris says that means most of the herd will have to be euthanized. That’s to prevent other nearby herds from becoming infected. This type of pneumonia does not affect livestock or people.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio