Laboratory results consistent with pneumonia strain found in neighboring states
Phoenix, AZ -(AmmoLand.com)- The Arizona Game and Fish Department has confirmed a disease event affecting a portion of the bighorn sheep population in the Black Mountains of northwest Arizona.
After receiving reports in early December from hunters who observed bighorn sheep in Game Management Unit 15D exhibiting coughing or nasal discharge, the department conducted a spot survey of the northern portion of the unit on Dec. 9. Tissue samples from three ewes, each animal culled from a different herd, showed characteristics consistent with pneumonia.
The survey then was extended into the central and southern portions of the unit. A few bighorn sheep near Mount Nutt and Battleship were observed coughing, but none of the animals was culled. The survey did not reveal any carcasses. All bighorn sheep observed in the survey appeared in good body condition. Some animals in Unit 15C also have shown signs of pneumonia.
While bighorn sheep can thrive in some of the harshest environments, they are highly susceptible to serious – and sometimes lethal – infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, sinusitis, and bluetongue. Bighorn sheep can contract pneumonia-causing bacteria from domestic sheep or other bighorn sheep, and there is no vaccine or cure.
Weeks of laboratory testing confirmed the strain of pneumonia bacteria found in the affected bighorn sheep is the same as the one that led to an outbreak of pneumonia that affected bighorn sheep in 2013 in California’s Mojave National Preserve and last year in Nevada’s Spring Mountains. While most bighorn sheep will remain in a defined home range, animals may occasionally move out of the core home range and come into contact with adjacent populations. The disease is transmitted by direct contact of infected animals with susceptible bighorn sheep.
The department will continue to monitor the bighorn sheep population in the Black Mountains and track reports of affected animals, while attempting to collect samples if any carcasses are discovered in the area.
For more information about bighorn sheep in Arizona, click here.
About the Arizona Game and Fish Department:
The Arizona Game and Fish Department is the state agency charged with conserving the entire range of wildlife within our borders, from big game such as elk and deer to smaller mammals, reptiles and fish. The Department is one of the nation’s leading proponents of the “North American Model of Wildlife Conservation,” which relies on sound science, public participation, active habitat management, strict regulation and active law enforcement to sustain wildlife populations.
For more information, visit: www.azgfdportal.az.gov.