Pneumonia Killing Off Bighorn Sheep in Nevada?

A report posted yesterday by The Ely Times says the greatest threat to the state’s desert bighorn sheep is bacterial pneumonia, which has destroyed entire herds statewide.

The EIS from yesterday’s post on domestic sheep grazing in Colorado noted in Section 3.1.1.1. that

…the preponderance of current scientific literature establishes that Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep and domestic sheep should not share the same space at the same time due to potential for disease transmission.

Section 3.1.1.2. states that

Historic population declines [in RM bighorn sheep] are attributed to over hunting, parasites, disease, competition with domestic livestock for forage, and competition with humans for space…but mortality resulting from epizootic pneumonia is thought to be the primary cause of the historical decline and currently remains the primary factor limiting bighorn sheep recovery.

Could privately owned sheep affect the health of wild sheep in Nevada?  How might the bighorns come in contact with those animals?

The action proposed by the BLM in the Colorado EIS (Alternative A), which was based on permittee applications, is not the preferred action (Alternative C), which would reduce the risk of contact between domestic sheep and Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep.

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