Domestic sheep + Bighorn Sheep
= dead Bighorns
taken by Deby Dixon, a Gardiner wildlife photographer, as the young
Bighorn was dying of pneumonia, literally drowning in its own fluids
produced by the pneumonia.
Click image to enlarge.
Beginning of April 2013 Bill Hoppe
brought a small hobby herd of about 30 domestic sheep into the Gardiner,
Montana area, just north of Yellowstone National Park. He had not
raised domestic sheep before and there were no other domestic sheep
herds in this area. This is not his livelihood. "Hoppe told
the Chronicle in April that he purchased his first 30 sheep that
month as a gift to his grandchildren. Prior to that, he'd raised
Hoppe is also a very vocal opponet
of wolves and bison, repeatedly submits written and vocal public
comments, as well as interviews against Yellowstone National Park
and Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. I have been to numerous
meetings where these long tirade speeches occur. Bill Hoppe is also
that profits from the Public Wildlife.
The domestic sheep were placed
on a parcel north of Gardiner, leased from a family member, bording
the Yellowstone River on the east side.
26, 2013 - Sheep
killed by wolves near Gardiner
After the news of the sheep killing
I called USDA Wildlife Services state director John Steuber and
spoke with him about the event. They investigated and determined
that it was 2 wolf tracks at the site. Hoppe requested wolf kill
permits. APHIS said there was no need, that he was moving the remaining
sheep to another location, they dont just go after any wolf. Hoppe
then moved the remaining sheep to his home property on Jardine Rd.
Hoppe then contacted FWP to demand
a kill permit, which he received, though there had not been a predation
before, the sheep had been moved, he had not met the requirements
in the FWP kill permit prevention methods first. The dead animals
were not moved for almost 2 weeks, which caused a controversy of
Hoppe baiting wolves with dead carcasses.
6, 2013 - Hoppe shoots a random collared wolf, originating
from Yellowstone National Park, that may not have been part of the
previous sheep killing. The black wolf was wearing a VHF radio collar
that identified it as “831F,” a member of the park’s
Canyon Pack, which was involved in a study. He took pictures posing
with it, which created another controversy.
8, 2013 - Gardiner
man kills Yellowstone Park wolf
wolf-killer is baiting animals with dead sheep
As a result of the bad publicity
that followed, Bill Hoppe claimed to the Bozeman Chronicle that
he had received hate mail and 2 death threats and would relinquish
his second wolf kill permit.
14, 2013 - Landowner
Tells FWP He Will Forfeit Permission to Kill Second Wolf
15, 2013 - Gardiner
man to turn in wolf permit
24, 2013 - Wildlife
advocates react to return of controversial sheep
Hoppe returned the domestic sheep
back to the leased parcel of land along the Yellowstone River, north
of Gardiner, causing numerous wildlife advocates to contact FWP
about the threat. This was especially dangerous to Bighorns who
were about to enter the breeding season and would be attracted to
the domestic sheep.
3, 2013 - Bighorn
sheep mingle with Gardiner domestic sheep
On Thanksgiving Day, Kevin Hurley,
conservation director for the Wild Sheep Foundation, was driving
to Gardiner from Livingston. He spotted Hoppes domestic herd of
sheep, saw a Bighorn ram jump into the pasture with the domestic
sheep. Just across the river tourist and wildlife photographers
were photographing a Bighorn Sheep herd of between 60-70 Bighorns.
15, 2014 - Pneumonia
Detected in Gardiner Area Bighorn Sheep
What all articles reporting the
beginning of this all age die off failed to report, was the existence,
threat and documented commingling of Bill Hoppes domestic sheep
and that of the Gardiner Bighorn Sheep. Also, that in all documented
cases of domestic sheep and Bighorn commingling or in test cases
of exposure, the result is always the same - the Bighorn Sheep or
Mountain Goats always die. And what all the articles have consistently
shown, are live Bighorn Sheep with the articles, rather than images
of the dead. This is sending mixed messages to the brain and imagery
is the more dominant to our brain.
2014, I spoke with FWP wildlife veterinarian Jennifer
Ramsey as to the tests of the Bighorn Sheep, had they checked with
Bill Hoppe to test his domestic herd for strain comparison. She
stated they had asked, but he declined.
2015 - I spoke with Howard Burt, FWP's Region 3
chief Wildlife Biologist about the number of the die off at about
30 now, which he confirmed. On Jan. 17th I passed the information
on to Laura Lunquist at an elk meeting to confirm with Burt.
19, 2015 - More
Gardiner-area bighorn sheep die
19, 2015 - Bighorn
die-off could close district to hunting
"At least 30 percent of the Gardiner bighorn sheep herd and
40 percent or more of the mature rams have died this winter from
The die-off has prompted Montana's Fish and
Wildlife Commission to meet via a telephone conference call at 8:30
a.m. Monday to consider an emergency closure of bighorn sheep hunting
in the district, Hunting District 305."
kills dozens of bighorn sheep north of Yellowstone Park
"After counting 89 healthy sheep last year,
Sunday’s count yielded 55 sheep, as well as another dead animal
and a number of sick ones, according to a statement released Monday
by Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks. So far, at least 34 sheep
from the herd have died from the pneumonia outbreak that began late
last year, marking a loss of nearly 40 percent of the herd in the
Gardiner and Cinnabar areas.
'The disease event is not over yet,' said Karen
Loveless, a Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks wildlife biologist
Mar. 24, 2015
- Sheep die-off prompts hunting district closure
"Montana's Fish and Wildlife Commission
closed a bighorn sheep hunting district near Gardiner due to an
ongoing disease-related die-off.
The emergency action came in response to a pneumonia
die-off that began late last year in bighorn sheep hunting district
305, near Gardiner. So far at least 34 sheep from the native herd
March 26, 2015
- I received my call back from FWP wildlife veterinarian Jennifer
Ramsey as to the results of the Bighorn Sheep tests from the fall
of 2014. The tests show positive for pneumonia: Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae,
Mannheimia haemolytica and some Bibersteinia trehalosi (not a primary,
it is secondary but over takes M. haemolytica, B. trehalosi affects
domestic sheep and cattle as well) - all fatal to bighorns.
Here is a paper explaining Mannheimia haemolytica
and Bibersteinia trehalosi relationship and that domestic cattle
can carry this and lethally transmit to Bighorn Sheep. A
Bighorn Sheep Die-off in Southern Colorado Involving a Pasteurellaceae
Strain that May Have Originated from Syntopic Cattle
Bill Hoppe has ranched small amounts
of domestic cattle for years. He owns property on Jardine Road in
Gardiner, Montana, north of Yellowstone National Park, east of the
While people can
speculate as to Hoppes motives for bringing the domestic sheep into
the wildlife corridor, threatening bison and bighorn sheep with
diseases and the conflict threat with the YNP wolves, there is no
documented statement from Bill Hoppe, only comments from various
people in discussion with him, not going on record, as to his motives.
Sheep Pneumonia Disease Page
One thing is for
certain, Hoppe has been notified by various wildlife agencies like
Yellowstone National Park, Montana Fish, Wildlife & Parks, APHIS,
the Wild Sheep Foundation, and others that those domestic sheep
pose a disease threat to the wildlife north of the Yellowstone National
Park. Hoppe refuses to remove the herd from the area, refuses to
accept double fencing offers. This is an intentional offense to
your public wildlife, just as if he struck a match and lit a forest
fire on public lands.
Hoppe has placed
his domestic sheep at two locations north of Yellowstone National
Park. One is his home location up on Jardine Road and the second
is a piece of property owned by a relative which borders the Yellowstone
River north of Gardiner, exposing even more Bighorn and bison populations
In May 2013 I hiked up to an overlook
north of Jardine Rd. to get photgraphic
documentation of Hoppes domestic sheep herd
in relation to the Bighorns and bison.
Home location on Jardine Rd. As you can see, that
jack fence will not prevent the lethal commingling
between domestic sheep and wild Bighorn Sheep.
Click for full image.
Below is a map showing Hoppes
Jardine sheep location and the wildlife I spotted on that May 2013
documentation hike. Click for larger view.
catarrhal fever threat to bison
, which domestic sheep are natural carriers of, lethally affects
bison and deer. But with bison and deer, they dont have to be nose
to nose. MCF is transmitted as an aerosol up to a 3.1 mile radius,
with a 7 day incubation. MCF will kill an infected deer or bison
within 2-3 days on average.
3 mile radius from Hoppes domestic sheep.
Click for larger view.
As a result of the Gardiner Bighorn
Sheep die offs, Bighorn Sheep Hunt District 305 was closed. Below
is a map showing a big overview of the Bighorn Sheep populations
from FWP population survey data, the hunt district boundaries, Hoppes
home location and the secondary leased parcel where his sheep have
been located. Click to enlarge map.
Wild Sheep Working Group
risk of disease transmission from domestic sheep or goats
to wild sheep is widely recognized, a unified set of management
recommendations for minimizing this risk has not been adopted
by responsible agencies. These Western Association of Fish
and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recommendations were produced
to help state, provincial, and territorial wild sheep managers,
federal/crown land management agencies, private landowners
and others take appropriate steps to eliminate range overlap,
and thereby, reduce opportunities for transmission of pathogens
to wild sheep.
Transmission of Mannheimia haemolytica
from domestic sheep to bighorn sheep was irrefutably demonstrated
et al. (2010) and provides justification sufficient for
preventing range overlap and potential association of domestic
sheep and goats with wild sheep. The higher the conservation
value of a wild sheep population (e.g., federally or state
listed, “sensitive species” status, native herds,
transplant source stock, herds in areas with no history of
domestic livestock presence), the more aggressive and comprehensive
wild sheep and domestic sheep or goat separation management
strategies should be.
Click on cover image for a PDF
copy of Recommendation for Domestic Sheep and Goat Management in
Wild Sheep Habitat