RENO, Nev. — Pneumonia outbreaks that have killed hundreds of bighorn sheep this winter in several Western states have wildlife officials grappling with how to minimize the impact.
Wildlife officials say the disease shows up sporadically in wild herds, but it's unusual to have so many outbreaks in so many states.
More than 400 bighorn sheep in Nevada, Montana, Utah and Washington have died – or been killed by wildlife officials – this winter, and the death toll is expected to rise in coming weeks.
More than half were from four herds in western Montana alone, and 79 of the deaths were from two herds in northeastern Nevada.
Eighteen bighorns have died in south-central Washington, and 26 have been killed in eastern Utah to stop the spread of the disease.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
RENO, Nev. (AP) – Nevada wildlife officials say a pneumonia outbreak has killed 79 bighorn sheep in two mountain ranges near Elko, and they expect the die-off to worsen.
Nevada Department of Wildlife biologist Caleb McAdoo says 61 dead sheep have been found in the East Humboldt Range and 18 dead bighorns have turned up in the adjoining Ruby Mountains.
He says that represents a mortality rate of 31 percent of the herd in the East Humboldts and 11 percent of the herd in the Ruby Mountains.
The ranges are located about 300 miles east of Reno.
Four years ago, pneumonia claimed 80 percent of the Ruby Mountains herd.
It's the first major disease outbreak in the East Humboldts since bighorns were reintroduced there 18 years ago.