Pneumonia strain reaches local bighorn sheep herds

MINER/File photo

MINER/File photo

KINGMAN - Bighorn sheep in the Black Mountains of northwest Mohave County have been infected with a pneumonia strain initially found in neighboring states, Arizona Game and Fish has confirmed.

Hunters in early December reported seeing sheep that were coughing and had nasal discharge and Game and Fish conducted a spot survey of the northern portion of hunt unit 15D on Dec. 9. Tissue samples from three ewes, each culled from a different herd, showed characteristics consistent with pneumonia, according to Game and Fish.

The survey was extended to the rest of the unit, as well as unit 15C, and some sheep have shown similar signs of pneumonia, although no carcasses were found and all of the animals appear in good body condition, according to the department.

The laboratory testing confirmed the strain is the same one that led to an outbreak in 2013 in California's Mohave National Preserve and in Southern Nevada's Spring Mountains last year.

Game and Fish noted sheep normally remain in a defined home range, but some will occasionally move out of the range and come into contact with animals from different herds. The disease is transmitted by direct contact of infected animals and there is no vaccine or cure.

Game and Fish will continue to monitor the herds.