Date of Award

8-2012

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Natural Resources (MNR)

First Advisor

Robert Schmidt

Abstract

Strong evidence exists indicating domestic sheep (Ovis aries) can infect Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis canadensis), a United States Forest Service (USFS) Region 4 sensitive species, with pneumonia (Callan 1991; Foreyt 1989, 1992, 1994; Foreyt and Lagerquist 1996; George et al 2008; Wehausen et al. 2011). Since the transmission of the pneumonic bacteria between the domestic and wild sheep is a result of bighorn sheep coming into contact with the bacteria carried in the mucous membranes of the domestic sheep, bighorn sheep at risk of initially contracting the bacteria are those individuals that enter areas currently being grazed or that have been recently grazed by domestic sheep (Foreyt 1990; Jessup 1985; Martin et al. 1996; Monello et al. 2001; Rudolph et al. 2003). The issue is further compounded when infected bighorn sheep return to their herd and have the potential to spread the bacteria to other members, which can result in substantial mortality (Shackleton et al. 1999).

Throughout the western United States (U.S.), the USFS and various state wildlife agencies are struggling to protect and maintain the viability of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep populations that coexist with domestic sheep being grazed on National Forest lands. This study reviews the biological, social, economic, and legal factors regarding Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep population protection and viability in the presence of domestic sheep, with special attention given to the Evanston/Mt. View Ranger District (EMVRD) on the Uinta-Wasatch-Cache National Forest (UWCNF). Additionally, possible solutions to the problem associated with the comingling of bighorn sheep and domestic sheep and the spread of pneumonia to bighorn sheep were investigated on the EMVRD. This included looking at ways to eliminate interactions between the domestic and wild sheep by identifying movement patterns of six satellite collared bighorn sheep of the Hoop Lake herd on the EMVRD.

2-6-2014