Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Study looks at why Montana's bighorn sheep are still plagued by die-offs

Montana study examines bighorn sheep die-offs and challenges some long-held theories about bighorn sheep management and exposure to pathogens.

 "Garrott — along with several MSU colleagues and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks research biologist Kelly Proffitt — has been attempting to answer that question, along with others including nutrition and habitat, with a 10-year study of bighorn sheep in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem as well as a six-year study of eight herds spread across Montana. The scientists’ theories are challenging what have been some long-held beliefs about bighorn sheep management.

“The protocol right now is we can eliminate die-offs if we keep them separate from domestic sheep,” Garrott said. “That’s created a lot of political pressure to get domestic sheep off of public lands.”
But he said the bighorns have the ability to die all on their own, without commingling.
“Perhaps we shouldn’t be pointing an ugly finger at domestic producers,” he said."