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Published January 22, 2010, 10:58 AM

FWP kills 60 sheep to contain pneumonia outbreak

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — State wildlife officials have removed at least 60 sheep to try to limit the effects of a pneumonia outbreak in a herd near Bonner, and may have to kill at least 30 more.

Fish, Wildlife and Parks biologist Vickie Edwards says 60 sheep had been removed by Wednesday afternoon.

Initially, officials believed the pneumonia outbreak was limited to about 65 sheep that were spotted in the Bonner and West Riverside areas. Now, the respiratory disease has been found in sheep to the east of that group. Approximately 95 of the estimated 160 to 180 sheep in the herd may be infected or exposed.

Edwards says if they’re lucky, killing the sheep carrying pneumonia will prevent the loss of the whole herd to the nearly always fatal disease. In extreme cases, pneumonia outbreaks have killed 80 percent to 90 percent of a herd’s animals.