HAMILTON, Mont. (AP) -- Fifteen domestic sheep and goats have tested positive for the same pathogen that caused a pneumonia outbreak that killed half the bighorn sheep in the East Fork of the Bitterroot.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Craig Jourdonnais says the 15 sheep and goats have been removed from the bighorn sheep winter range after wildlife officials spoke with the landowner and two sportsmen groups.

The domestic animals will be slaughtered at a Hamilton packing plant. The meat will be donated to food banks.

The animals tested positive for a pneumonia complex called mycoplasma. Domestic sheep can carry the pathogen without harm, but it can be deadly to bighorns.

Jourdonnais says there were 87 bighorns in the East Fork this spring compared to about 200 last fall.


Information from: The Ravalli Republic, www.ravallirepublic.com

Copyright 2010 The AP.

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