LAS VEGAS (AP) — Wildlife biologists want to determine why desert bighorn sheep in the River Mountains of southern Nevada are falling ill and will have to euthanize some to find the answer.

Biologists fear that some of the herd that lives in the rocky terrain between Henderson and Lake Mead may have contracted pneumonia, an often fatal disease in wild sheep.

Wildlife experts and members of the public have observed sheep coughing and sneezing, but biologists say the symptoms alone are not enough to make a reliable diagnosis. They say they plan to conduct a full   necropsy on at least one sick adult and maybe a couple of yearlings to try to pinpoint the cause.

About 250 bighorns make their home in the River Mountains.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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