Dis­ease may be killing Cal­i­for­nia desert bighorn sheep

Sun.Star Pampanga - - SCIENCE! -

RIVER­SIDE, Calif. (AP) — A new sur­vey has found a sharp de­cline in desert bighorn sheep in South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, and bi­ol­o­gists sus­pect the cause is a dis­ease con­tracted from do­mes­tic an­i­mals.

The Cal­i­for­nia Depart­ment of Fish and Wildlife says a sur­vey ear­lier this month counted 60 bighorns in the Mount San Gor­gonio re­gion east of Los An­ge­les. That’s down two-thirds from a sur­vey con­ducted in 2016.

Bi­ol­o­gist Jeff Villepique says in the past, such die-offs have been trig­gered by an out­break of a respiratory dis­ease spread by con­tact with do­mes­tic sheep or goats.

The dis­ease killed at least 21 bighorns whose car­casses were found in the area in De­cem­ber.

South­ern Cal­i­for­nia has about 4,800 desert bighorn sheep in 64 herds. Au­thor­i­ties say so far, sheep in nearby herds haven’t been af­fected.

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