Trophy or anomaly? Wildlife finds a way to survive

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BOZEMAN – False teeth, glasses, joints and artificial limbs – are all adaptations that people use to function due to injury or medical condition.

In the wild world, none of these are available, so wildlife must find their own ways to survive.

A recent photo of a bighorn sheep with a bad horn sparked a conversation about how much we should get involved in helping them with these adaptations.

On display at the Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks Region 3 office in Bozeman is a bighorn sheep mount, showing a uniform curl. Not all bighorn sheep are so perfect. A recent social media post about a bighorn sheep in southwestern Montana with a damaged horn sparked questions about what FWP is doing to help.

FWP, Chet Laic – MTN NEWS

A recent photo of a bighorn sheep with a bad horn sparked a conversation about how much we should get involved in helping them with these adaptations.

“What happened was that this ram when he was young was fighting with a ram much older than him and he injured his growth plate,” said biologist Julie Cunningham. FWP fauna. “So his horn has grown abnormally and he can’t see out of his right eye. But I saw this ram in heat this year and he was there with all the other big rams running around the ewes and he seems to be fat and healthy and happy.”

Some commented on the social media post that Fish, Wildlife and Parks should run the ram and cut the horn. FWP will sometimes take this kind of action, but the reality is that if the animal is fine, naturally it will let nature take its course.

“They look different so we get called on them but we have to take into consideration if we are going to respond to an animal that is injured or has something abnormal we have to consider the risk of being involved in one,” said FWP Wildlife Veterinarian Dr Jennifer Ramsey. “There is definitely a risk of going out and catching a wild animal drugging a wild animal, there are things we don’t can’t control, so we don’t want to make it worse, especially if the animal is out there surviving, thriving, even though it might look different.”

“As Dr Ramsey indicated, every time we go to throw an animal, we don’t want to make it worse,” Cunningham added. “Darting and drugging a wild animal carries a lot of risk for both the wild animal itself and humans, so going in and cutting off its horn would be a lot of risk for that animal. years and he’s horny and doing everything he’s supposed to do so why risk him letting him be unique?”

Unique but not alone. FWP regularly sees animals like this. A deer caught in last year’s hunt had a missing eye and deformed antlers – not that unusual. Some are extreme. An elk suffered an open fracture and survived long enough for bone to grow around the fracture.

“This stuff is quite atypical, but you know, not as rare as you might think,” Ramsey said. “But sometimes we see really amazing things. Usually you hear someone say, ‘Wow, I can’t believe these animals have these kinds of injuries and they’re still living. “It’s pretty impressive every once in a while, and then you see something remarkable.”

FWP would like to know if you see an animal with any type of physical problem. They ask you not to try to help in any way. FWP will investigate and take any action the biologists deem necessary. Their advice? If you care, leave them there.

As for the ram with the weird curl? FWP will continue to monitor it and all the rest of Montana’s wildlife – trophy or anomaly.

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