By Associated Press • 

Oregon biologists research bighorn sheep illness

BEND — Wildlife officials in Oregon are researching a bacterial species that can lead to pneumonia in bighorn sheep.

The Bulletin reports that the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife has collared dozens of wild sheep and is documenting mortality and completing blood and genetic testing. The department plans to collar more animals in the coming months.

Officials say the respiratory pathogen has killed large numbers of bighorns over the past several years. They pick the bacteria up from domestic sheep and goats, which are not sickened by it.

ODFW Assistant District Wildlife Biologist and sheep capture boss Autumn Larkins says the bacteria is a priority because it has the potential to wipe out the state's entire sheep population. Last year it dropped herd numbers in Malheur County's Leslie Gulch from 150 to 30.

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Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com

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