Dall sheep at the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. The Yukon government is to implement a control order to protect wild sheep and goats from catching potentially lethal respiratory diseases from their domesticated relatives. (Tom Patrick/Yukon News file)

Wild sheep and goats in the Yukon to be protected from diseases by control order

The order, active on Jan. 1, 2020, will separate domesticated populations from wild ones

The Yukon government is to implement a control order to protect wild sheep and goats from catching potentially lethal respiratory diseases from their domesticated relatives.

What’s distinct about this plan, slated to come into effect on Jan. 1, 2020, is that it preemptively safeguards thinhorn sheep and mountain goats (there’s actually been no evidence of contamination of the populations in the Yukon, according to Marc Cattet, acting chief veterinary officer).

The bacterium in question is called Mycoplasma ovipneumoniae (M. ovi), which can cause pneumonia and other respiratory maladies.

Owners are being instructed to keep their animals below an elevation of 1,000 metres before the control order is officially rolled out.

Other conditions include keeping domestic sheep and goats in an inspected enclosure (also before the order is implemented), that animals be permanently tagged, up-to-date record-keeping on each animal and annual testing for pathogens, according to a fact sheet.

“It’s really a preventative step,” Cattet said. “It’s dealing with a potential issue before it happens. That’s what makes it exceptional, relative to other jurisdictions.”

Implementing the order is pegged at $752,000 over a six-year period, according to a press release. It will end in 2024. This money will go towards things like an inspector’s salary, annual tests, fencing and “compensation for destroyed animals.”

Cattet presented the order as a seemingly symbiotic relationship between opposing, sometimes clashing, aspirations.

“On the one hand it allows for conservation of wild thin horn sheep and mountain goats, but on the other hand it allows for a responsible domestic sheep and goat industry, so it’s not thwarting agriculture,” he said, noting that the imposed standards are likely to exceed those found elsewhere in Canada and the U.S.

The control order isn’t specific to farmers, either: even pet owners will need to comply.

“It’s even individual people that might have a goat or two they use to keep the grass cut short,” Cattet said.

In the western U.S., Alberta and British Columbia, “There’s a fairly lengthy history of bighorn sheep populations coming into close contact with domestic sheep or goat populations” while grazing, he said, the eventual consequence being, in some cases, “massive die-offs.”

Contact Julien Gignac at julien.gignac@yukon-news.com

animal controlanimal health unitgoatsheepYukon

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Inside the courtroom in Whitehorse, Chief Electoral Officer Max Harvey, Vuntut Gwitchin returning officer Renee Charlie and Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Duncan open the box containing the names of the tied candidates. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Annie Blake elected as MLA for Vuntut Gwitchin after name draw

“I’m still feeling shocked that my name was drawn, I feel overwhelmed.”

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Brendan Hanley. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
New COVID-19 case confirmed in rural Yukon community

An exposure notification has been issued for Andrea’s Restaurant in Watson Lake

Food trucks gather on Steele Street between Front and Second for the annual Street Eats Festival in Whitehorse on August 12, 2019. (Julien Gignac/Yukon News file)
May 1 could mark the start of the 2021 food truck season

Lottery for downtown sites set for April 28

Wyatt's World
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for April 16, 2021.… Continue reading

From left to right, Pascale Marceau and Eva Capozzola departed for Kluane National Park on April 12. The duo is taking on the first all-woman expedition to Mt. Lucania. (Michael Schmidt/Icefield Discovery)
First all-woman team among mountaineers heading to Kluane National Park

One team will be exploring Mt. Logan while a second all-woman team aims for Mt. Lucania summit

Crystal Schick/Yukon News Whitehorse International Airport in Whitehorse on May 6, 2020.
NAV CANADA suspends review for Whitehorse airport traffic control

NAV CANADA announced on April 15 that it is no longer considering… Continue reading

A bulldozer levels piles of garbage at the Whitehorse landfill in January 2012. (Ian Stewart/Yukon News file)
Rural dump closures and tipping fees raise concern from small communities

The government has said the measures are a cost-cutting necessity

Whitehorse City Hall (Yukon News file)
City news, briefly

A look at city council matters for the week of April 12

Joel Krahn/joelkran.com Hikers traverse the Chilkoot Trail in September 2015. Alaska side.
The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer

The Canadian side of the Chilkoot Trail will open for summer Parks… Continue reading

Letters to the editor.
Today’s mailbox: Hands of Hope, the quilt of poppies

Toilets are important Ed. note: Hands of Hope is a Whitehorse-based non-profit… Continue reading

École Whitehorse Elementary Grade 7 students Yumi Traynor and Oscar Wolosewich participated in the Civix Student Vote in Whitehorse on April 12. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Yukon Student Vote chooses Yukon Party government; NDP take popular vote

The initiative is organized by national non-profit CIVIX

Yvonne Clarke is the newly elected Yukon Party MLA for Porter Creek Centre. (Submitted/Yukon Party)
Yvonne Clarke elected as first Filipina MLA in the Yukon Legislative Assembly

Clarke beat incumbent Liberal Paolo Gallina in Porter Creek Centre

Emily Tredger at NDP election night headquarters after winning the Whitehorse Centre riding. (Stephanie Waddell/Yukon News)
Emily Tredger takes Whitehorse Centre for NDP

MLA-elect ready to get to work in new role

Most Read