Dee Ostwald

People should be aware of the harmful effects we are causing the bighorn sheep in Yellowstone National Park because it is directly and indirectly decreasing their population and disrupting their migratory patterns. The National Park Service should enforce policy and impose fines in order to make people think before they do something that can make hurt them or the animals. The importance is to keep animals and the people safe.

Historically, domestic animals have impacted many wildlife species in Yellowstone National Park, and that impact continues today. In the past, livestock producers brought domestic sheep close to Yellowstone causing the bighorn sheep to contract illness like pneumonia. On average, 50% of bighorns die often contracting pneumonia. When bighorn sheep get pneumonia, they can pass it to their young. It’s unknown how many bighorn sheep have pneumonia right now because of a lack of research. When there are low numbers of bighorn sheep, they start mating with their families causing genetic diversity loss. With the loss of genetic diversity, bighorn sheep can get diseases easier and are not as immune to the diseases.

People can be unaware causing the animal’s stress levels to increase causing it to be difficult to fight off diseases and sometimes can make them die.

Brett French, the outdoors editor for the Billings Gazette, said that loss of genetic diversity affects bighorns is having a big affect on the bighorns. He said the biggest factors for bighorns is the loss of habitat, competition Interestingly, Yellowstone’s other animals are dealing with disease from domestic animals, like brucellosis in bison and elk.

Ranger Jon Nicholson from Yellowstone National Park. Ranger Jon Nicholson said he did not know how many bighorn sheep died in Yellowstone National Park because of pneumonia in 2016. Hoping for a better answer I asked what the impact of pneumonia was in bighorn sheep. He said, it is “easier to get the disease, loss of traits, they have less of chance to change.” So not knowing about this problem is huge. Even a person working in Yellowstone National Park doesn’t know the answers of one of the animals they have in and out of the park. The National parks  service should make a video showing people getting hurt by bighorn sheep and let them know about the bighorn sheep. Also they should have more people learning about the bighorn sheep.

Countering to this was Jon Nicholson during my questions he answered “There is a Montana State student studying bighorn sheep.” How is one student gonna make a change this problem and help the park protect this animal. This is why I’m making this argument, so Yellowstone visitors, rangers, and the government know what they are doing to these animals.



CC BY-SA 4.0 Yellowstone National Park Bighorn Sheep by Dee Ostwald is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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