Wyoming is hoping to start vaccinating bighorn sheep for pneumonia within the next few years.
A working group dedicated to curbing the spread of sheep diseases met last week in Casper, and participants said inoculation research is yielding promising results.
Doug McWhirter, a wildlife biologist with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, is a member of the working group. He says bighorn sheep are doing well in many parts of Wyoming but that diseases are still a big threat.
“For as tough as they are, they’re really pretty delicate as far as their respiratory systems go,” McWhirter said. “You can lose 50 percent of a sheep herd easily with a pneumonia outbreak, and in some cases you see bighorn sheep die-offs that may take 60 or 80 percent of the population.”
McWhirter says Wyoming is working with Washington State University in its attempt to develop vaccines for both domestic and bighorn sheep.