Study Explores Disease in Grand Canyon Bighorns
Researchers are looking into the threat of pneumonia spreading among desert bighorn sheep in the Grand Canyon.
Seventy-five percent of the sheep tested so far have come back positive for pathogens. That does not mean they have full-fledged pneumonia or will develop it, though.
Still, pneumonia has led to die-offs of bighorn sheep in other parts of the southwest, such as the Mojave Desert. For that reason, wildlife biologist Brandon Holton with Grand Canyon National Park said it is critical to get a better sense of how many animals in the park actually have the disease.
At this point, only three sheep have come back positive for pneumonia, Holton said.
"However, Grand Canyon is a tremendously vast and very logistically difficult place to get around, and without a doubt the majority of sheep that actually die of pneumonia, or other causes, go undiscovered," said Holton.
Holton said they’ve been conducting this study since 2011.
The Grand Canyon Association now hopes to raises more than $100,000 to continue and expand the study.