Two hunts cancelled due to disease outbreak in bighorn sheep

SALEM, Ore. — ODFW is cancelling both Lookout Mt. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep hunts in northeastern Oregon. Hunters will not be able to apply for or draw a tag to hunt bighorns in this herd during the fall 2020 season.

The cancelled hunts are in the Lookout Mt. Unit east of Baker City, Ore. where a respiratory disease was found in bighorn sheep in mid-February 2020. Testing has revealed that the primary cause of the disease outbreak is a new strain of Mycoplasma ovipneumoniaewhich causes severe pneumonia in bighorns. No effective treatment is available for wild populations.

Two hunts are being cancelled—564A1 Lookout Mountain No. 1 and 564A2 Lookout Mountain No. 2, affecting a total of three tags (2 resident, 1 non-resident). This hunt area will also no longer be available to the Auction Tag holder and the Raffle Tag holder.

Intensive monitoring of this population by local district wildlife biologist Brian Ratliff indicates a high proportion of the herd is infected, with an increase in mortality also observed.

“The recovery of bighorn sheep populations in Oregon has been a great success story of wildlife management. This type of a disease outbreak is a something ODFW works hard to prevent and is a concerning setback, given the history of how this disease affects bighorn sheep,” said Ratliff. “As these hunts are a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for hunters, the prudent response is to cancel these two hunts, focus on recovering this bighorn herd and hopefully providing an opportunity for our hunters in the future.”

These hunts will no longer be available for application through ODFW’s licensing system. Hunters who have applied for these hunts will be contacted by ODFW with their options which include editing applications or requesting an application fee refund. Hunters can adjust their application through their online account (under Recreational Portfolio/Controlled Hunts; see how-to online) through June 1, 2020.