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Pneumonia kills hundreds of bighorn sheep in western U.S.

February 27, 2010 |  2:04 pm

Bighorn sheep

Pneumonia outbreaks that have killed hundreds of bighorn sheep this winter in several western states have wildlife officials grappling with how to minimize the effect.

Wildlife officials say the disease shows up sporadically in wild herds, but it's unusual to have so many outbreaks in so many states.

More than 400 bighorn sheep in Nevada, Montana, Utah and Washington have died -- or been killed by wildlife officials -- this winter, and the death toll is expected to rise in coming weeks.

More than half were from four herds in western Montana alone, and 79 of the deaths were from two herds in northeastern Nevada.

Eighteen bighorns have died in south-central Washington, and 26 have been killed in eastern Utah to stop the spread of the disease.

-- Associated Press

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Photo: Bighorn sheep graze near the Big Pines Recreation Area in the Yakima River Canyon, Wash., in 2008. Credit: Gordon King / Associated Press

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