Misguided, backward effort aims to decrease disease risk

March 13, 2018

Killing bighorn sheep to “save” them? It sounds absurd, but it’s just been authorized by the New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. The Department will allow hunters to kill nearly 50 bighorns in the Rio Grande Gorge near Taos, New Mexico. Its rationale is that wiping out these bighorns will make it less likely that the rest of the herd will come into contact with disease-carrying livestock grazing in the Rio Grande Gorge.

Bighorn sheep are susceptible to pneumonia-inducing pathogens carried by domestic sheep and goats. Up to 90 percent of a bighorn herd can die from pneumonia after contact with just one infected sheep. And yet the Department is choosing to target and kill native wildlife, rather than focusing on the livestock grazing on public lands that are putting native wildlife at risk.

Instead of authorizing the killing of more than 10 percent of the Rio Grande Gorge bighorn herd—an iconic herd that people travel from far and wide to see—the Department should be looking at the root of the problem: people who raise livestock on our public lands for their own personal gain.

Read the press release.

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