M-Ovi Virus and Big Horn Sheep

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Last week, Montana Wool Growers Association representatives had a lengthy sit-down discussion with MT Fish Wildlife and Parks officials in Helena concerning the Big Horn Sheep. Dr. Maggie Highland reported research relevant to the topic of the M-Ovi virus and her recent findings. She reported that she has found different strains of the M-ovi virus in other species, such as captive whitetail deer, bison, and elk. These findings create a lot more questions than answers at the moment. FWP Dr. Ramsey confirmed Dr. Highland’s findings and added that the data share agreement between the two has been working well with both parties working toward the same goal.

The afternoon ended with an open and honest discussion between MWGA sheep producers John Helle, Kelly Ingalls, John Sampsel, and Nina Baucus and FWP (Dr. Ramsey, Craig Fager, Emily Almberg, and John Vore). Both groups discussed expectations of each, the protocol of co-mingling Bighorns, ways that both parties can improve, and MOU’s. Perhaps the biggest conclusion that came out of this meeting was the agreement to quit “pointing fingers” and making assumptions to the press in concerns to Bighorn sheep/domestic sheep interactions. There was a unified consensus to expand and continue to grow Bighorn herds while also maintaining the strength of the domestic sheep industry in Montana.

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Montana Wool Growers Association


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