Utah Confirms Bighorn Die-Off on Antelope Island
January 11, 2019

On Thursday, the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources announced plans to euthanize the remaining bighorn sheep herd on Antelope Island after confirming an outbreak of respiratory disease.

Through their ongoing collaring project, they were able to confirm that the bighorn population on the remote island located in the Great Salt Lake dropped from 150 to 26 in recent months. State crews will search the island and euthanize the remaining bighorn sheep. Significantly, there are no domestic sheep on Antelope Island, but the island is home to free-ranging bison, mule deer and antelope in addition to the bighorn sheep.

Until this die-off, the bighorn sheep were thought to be pathogen free and Utah Wildlife Resources has used this herd to supplement other herds throughout the state. This case might be significant given the isolated nature of this herd and considering the recent research published by Dr. Maggie Highland and others – Mycoplasma ovipneumonia in Wildlife Species beyond Subfamily Caprinae – which identified respiratory disease pathogens in a number of other species, including mule deer.

Click Here to read more about that research.