SALEM, Ore.–-(Ammoland.com)- ODFW is increasing disease monitoring in California bighorn sheep throughout Oregon this year as part of ongoing research with Oregon State University and the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies.
ODFW traditionally relocates sheep each year as part of a years-long effort to restore this rare species to its historic range in Oregon. But these relocation efforts are on hold this year while wildlife managers learn more about Mycoplasma ovipneumonia (M. Ovi, the bacteria primarily responsible for infectious pneumonia in bighorn sheep).
In the last few weeks, ODFW wildlife biologists and veterinarians have sampled 54 bighorn sheep in southeastern Oregon. Paired with previous year’s capture efforts, this brings the total of disease sampled and collared California Bighorn Sheep to over 120.
Concerns about how M. Ovi is impacting Oregon’s wild sheep populations have grown since a die-off of the Lower Owyhee bighorn sheep herd in 2015-16. Also that year, the Nevada Dept of Wildlife made the difficult decision to eliminate an entire herd of sick bighorn sheep just south of Oregon’s border to stop the spread of M. ovi to neighboring populations.
Respiratory disease has killed numerous wild sheep in Oregon and other Western states over the past few decades and is considered the largest risk…