Pneumonia Kills Pine Ridge Bighorn Sheep Lambs

Discussion in 'Nebraska Flyway Forum' started by JDK, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. JDK

    JDK Moderator Moderator Flyway Manager

    May 21, 2004
    Pneumonia kills Pine Ridge bighorn sheep lambs

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    The future of Nebraska’s Pine Ridge bighorn sheep herd is shaky. Last week, biologists confirmed that all 21 lambs outfitted with tracking collars have died. Samples taken from the dead sheep link the casualties to pneumonia – a deadly disease that has caused massive die-offs in bighorn sheep herds across the West.

    As goHUNT previously reported, biologists collared newborn lambs and implanted pregnant ewes in order to track the disease and death among the herds. While pneumonia may be the culprit behind high fawn mortality within this region of northwest Nebraska, scientists want to figure out which pathogens are actually causing the disease.

    “We obviously have some deadly pathogens in the herds that are wreaking havoc,” Todd Nordeen, the Nebraska Game and Park Commission’s big game research and disease program manager, told NBC Nebraska. Nordeen adds that most of the lambs died within four to 57 days after birth with many dying from disease in 30 to 45 days.

    Only one lamb – which was not collared – appears to have survived.

    “Without any lambs our herd sizes in the Pine Ridge are going nowhere but down,” says Nordeen. “If we don’t do something, we won’t have bighorn sheep in northwest Nebraska.”

    However, before they can figure out an action plan, they need to know what they’re up against. For now, researchers wait for the laboratory results from the pathology report. Identifying the bacteria that is causing the pneumonia will help them determine a way to retaliate against the disease and, hopefully, save bighorn sheep herds within the state.
  2. nebgoosehunter

    nebgoosehunter Senior Refuge Member

    Oct 17, 2013
    The Wildcat Hills herds are doing much better at fighting off pneumonia but for some reason those Pine Ridge herds have had trouble for quite a few years now. When I was the bighorn sheep technician in 2012 I think there were only a handful of lambs in the Fort Robinson and Barrel Butte herds and maybe only a handful of yearlings. Herd population was a lot better then and we still only had a few lambs survive. The more the population drops, recruitment gets less and less, to the point now where recruitment is practically zero. The Sowbelly herd was phenomenal those first couple years with almost 100% recruitment, but now it has taken a hit from expanding and intermingling with other sheep. Hopefully Todd and the guys can figure out how to get this thing under control!

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