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Artemis endeavors to get more women in the field and on the water, to support women as leaders in the conservation movement, to ensure the vitality of our lands, waters, and wildlife. Artemis endeavors to change the face of conservation.

Dec 17, 2020

In the last of our series with scientists from the Monteith Shop, we talk with Rachel Smiley and Brittany Wagler about their research understanding pneumonia in bighorn sheep herds. Several pneumonia pathogens are common across a handful of Wyoming herds, but some herds seem more susceptible than others to outbreak. Plus, you've heard of 'super-spreaders' in the Covid era... do sheep have the same kind of individuals? 

5:00 Vegetarian to hunter transition

8:00 Evolution as a hunter: With family, by yourself as your beliefs of ethical hunting change, then back to hunting with others again

9:30 Hunting with your sci-gal pals is pretty great! 

12:30 Bighorn sheep are susceptible to respiratory pneumonia, which can have an impact on population dynamics year to year. What are the environmental factors (habitat/nutrition/physiology) that influence pneumonia vulnerability?

13:30 Research questions: What's the energetic cost of a sheep getting pneumonia? Are antibodies passed to offspring? Are different herds affected differently?

15:00 Whiskey Basin herd in Wyoming had a big outbreak in the '90s, which led to a big, all-ages die-off of many members of the herd... they're STILL recovering. The Jackson herd has also had outbreaks, but recovery's been better. Why is that?

21:00 Collaring lambs vs. fawns... apples to oranges

22:00 So... how DO you collar a lamb? 

27:00 Pneumonia in bighorn sheep comes from contact with domestic sheep. Most of that contact has been eliminated, but about five pathogens persist

31:00 Same sheep herd, very different use of the same habitat... and we ask, does this influence pneumonia susceptibility? 

36:00 Different individuals can have odd behavior/migration patterns... what do they tell us about a population?

41:00 Ice bath?... enema?... it's all in the semantics

44:00 Most sheep herds have the same pathogens in them, but they don't always result in symptomatic pneumonia

47:00 You've heard about Covid super-spreaders... here's a take on how that plays out in bighorn sheep (which don't socially distance or wear masks)

50:00 Being an ungulate biologist requires a lot of the same skills as hunting... and optimism! You have to be a believer to know you can catch a sheep lamb in the wilderness

59:00 Minimizing disturbance in the backcountry is one of the best things you can do for sheep

1:04 Are we scientist/hunters, or scientist hunters? (Grammar save lives!)

1:11 Looking for a lamb... finding a cougar! And realize the lamb is in the cat's belly and its collar is in the cougar's cave

1:18 Need more Monteith Shop in your life? Find them online at, or on Instagram @Monteith.Shop... and find Artemis online in our Facebook group. We'd love to have you!