Urge Montana to Save Bighorn Sheep from Disease

Bighorn sheep

Target: Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation

Goal: Save wild bighorn sheep from contracting pneumonia from domestic sheep

Bighorn sheep herds that travel too close to domestic sheep herds in Montana are at risk of contracting pneumonia. A single bighorn sheep that grazes too close to domestic sheep may contract pneumonia and infect its entire herd. Pneumonia is deadly for bighorn sheep; this problem has the potential to destroy countless numbers of bighorn sheep, which could prove to be devastating for the species.

Domestic sheep herds graze on public land that is adjacent to the land that bighorn sheep wander. In Montana, bighorn sheep are regarded very highly; to see wild bighorn sheep is a treat for humans. There are many initiatives to help bighorn sheep thrive, including very strict hunting laws with intense fines for those caught with illegal bighorn parts. The Montana Wildlife Federation has kept bighorn protection at the front of its radar. However, most threats to bighorns the federation has encountered have come in the form of greedy humans, not disease.

Because the grazing lands are so close it is impossible to save bighorn sheep from contracting pneumonia, unless there is initiative taken in separating the lands. There are programs such as the Adopt a Wildlife Acre Program, which is striving to purchase domestic sheep grazing lands bordering that of bighorn sheep in order to vacate the grazing lands and stop contact between the two species. This cause will definitely make a difference, especially when a concerned individual can purchase the land to be made vacant for $4.16 an acre. However, the bighorn sheep need a larger advocate. Montana cares about bighorn sheep; the Montana Wildlife Federation simply has not addressed the risk factor of bighorn sheep contracting pneumonia. Urge the federation to create a game plan that will save the bighorn sheep from this stealthy, yet deadly, disease.


Dear Dave Chadwick, Executive Director of the Montana Wildlife Federation,

The bighorn sheep that occupy Montana are incredibly graceful and beautiful; the species is a prized and welcome resident. I appreciate the efforts that the Montana Wildlife Federation is making in protecting these amazing beasts, including the SuperTag which provides only one person at a time the chance to hunt bighorn sheep. It is evident that you care about the future of this species; however, trouble for the bighorn species is developing through an unlikely source: domestic sheep that carry pneumonia.

Domestic sheep in Montana are allowed to graze on public land, meaning they are allowed to come into contact with wandering bighorn sheep. Domestic sheep often carry pneumonia, a highly contagious disease that, when contracted by a bighorn, may mean death for a large number of the herd. If the domestic grazing lands were deliberately separate from wild lands, there would be less chance of commingling and a greater chance of survival for the bighorn species.

There are a few initiatives from concerned organizations, such as the Adopt a Wildlife Acre Program, which buys land from domestic sheep owners in order to make adjacent lands vacant. This will help, but the bighorn sheep need a greater advocate if they are to be spared. I urge you to take action against this deadly disease and separate domestic sheep from bighorn sheep. Please dedicate vacant land surrounding domestic sheep land. The less contact domestic and bighorn sheep have, the better.

Bighorn sheep need your help. Please do not let them down.


[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Myheimu via Flickr

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