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Field reports: State kills last of Tieton bighorns

Sun., Oct. 20, 2013

BIG GAME – The last of the Tieton bighorn sheep herd was shot and killed Monday morning, seven months after members of the herd began showing up dead or dying along the Highway 12 corridor, victims of a particularly virulent strain of pneumonia.

Having contained a potentially disastrous disease outbreak that might have spread to neighboring herds, Washington Fish and Wildlife officials in the Yakima region have another outbreak to worry about: a recurrence of the same disease that in 2010 killed dozens of bighorns in the Umtanum herd on the west side of the Yakima River Canyon.

Following that pneumonia outbreak, state officers lethally removed as many as 90 more bighorns to keep the disease from spreading to the bighorns on the east side of the Yakima River.

But this year, after what regional wildlife manager Ted Clausing called “two good lamb years” in 2011 and 2012 that had helped the herd’s population rebound to nearly its pre-outbreak numbers, this year’s lambs have experienced a significant dieoff.

“In the last couple of years (the Umtanum herd has) produced 50 to 60 lambs each year,” said state wildlife biologist Jeff Bernatowicz. “This year it’s probably going to be 20 or fewer.”

In Hells Canyon and the Snake River most lambs continue to perish from the disease every year, 18 years following a massive dieoff in 1995.

The final Tieton ram killed on Monday marked the 55th Tieton bighorn lethally removed on behalf of the wildlife department. Biologists believe the remaining members of the herd, which had numbered between 150 and 200 prior to the outbreak, all died from the disease.

Clark Fork fish tainted, agencies say

FISHING – Three state agencies Thursday issued fish consumption advisories for northern pike and rainbow trout on a 105-mile stretch of the Clark Fork River in western Montana.

A “do not eat” advisory was issued for northern pike, and a “four meal per month” limit for rainbow trout, from the Clark Fork’s confluence with the Bitterroot River, near Missoula, to the confluence with the Flathead River, near Paradise.

The advisory is in response to contaminant investigations in fish immediately downstream of the Smurfit Stone Container mill site in Frenchtown.

The advisories are conservative, officials said.

Info: (406) 444-6988.

Roman Nose road closed for repairs

FORESTS – Road construction will require the Bonners Ferry Ranger District to temporarily close Forest Service Road 1007, Caribou Pass Road starting Monday, Oct. 21-Oct. 25 and again Oct. 28-Nov. 1

The road will be reopened Oct. 26-27 to allow visitor access along the road during the weekend.

This closure will temporarily restrict motorized access to the Roman Nose Trail head. 


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