Awarded to the Wild Sheep Society of BC to determine the level of risk of the M.ovi pathogen to the bighorn population in the Columbia Valley.

PROPONENT: Wild Sheep Society of BC

DESCRIPTION: This project is working to identify and build relationships between domestic sheep producers in the upper Columbia Valley, the East Kootenay region and wild sheep conservation efforts. The goal is to understand the prevalence of M.ovi (a small bacteria of the upper respiratory tract that domestic sheep are known to carry, often with little or no symptoms, but has recently been identified as a significant pathogen in wild sheep) by sampling as many domestic sheep as possible, to determine the level of risk to the bighorn population (currently a blue-listed species in B.C.). With this confidential information, producers can be approached for their interest in mitigation measures.

OBJECTIVE: The first objective is to understand the risk that domestic sheep present to wild sheep in this area. The goal is to test and collect data from as many sheep as possible (around 500 individuals) to get an accurate measure of infection. The second is to identify sheep producers in the area and to inform them of the risk from M.ovi, to their sheep and to the bighorn population. A focus will be placed on an ongoing dialogue and relationship between wild sheep advocates and domestic sheep farmers. And the third objective is to enlist the help of sheep producers in identifying their flock M.ovi status. Extension tools such as workshops and/or webinars will be offered to farmers in the upper Columbia Valley. The content will include a discussion of risk and wild/domestic sheep health management, enhancing awareness and the importance of domestic/wild sheep separation, the process of testing and potential outcomes. To continue the peer-to-peer support, the projects is also assisting producers in adding value to their wool production industry in the area by purchasing wool from producers that do not already process it (waste wool) as an incentive to test for M.ovi.

PHOTO: Nicole Trigg/KCP VIDEO: Wild Sheep Society of BC