Bighorn sheep in Okanogan Co. tests positive for pneumonia, poses threat to population

Bighorn sheep in Okanogan Co. tests positive for pneumonia, poses threat to population

A bighorn ram located in Okanogan County was recently confirmed to have died from pneumonia, posing a huge threat to the population, according to a release from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.

WDFW officials said pneumonia can decimate bighorn populations and kill lambs for many years, preventing herds from repopulating.

According to WDFW, this pnemonia case was caused by a highly infectious bacteria, but does not pose a threat to humans. Only a single ram from the Mt. Hull herd tested poscitive for the disease.

WDFW is currently testing additional animals and is partnering with biologists at the Colville Tribes to increase visual monitoring of the Mt. Hull herd.

“This is a highly visible herd. These sheep are in orchards and among houses,” said WDFW Biologist Jeff Heinlen. “Because we can’t be watching all the time, we are asking people to alert us if they notice sheep that appear lethargic, coughing or showing nasal discharge. This helps us assess the health of the herd.”

There is also a potential for wandering sheep to pass on th ebacteria to animals in other herds, according to WDFW. These herds include the Omake Lake herd on the Colville Reservation to the south, the Sinlahekin herd to the west or herds to the north across the border in Canada.

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