bighorn sheep

ANTELOPE ISLAND STATE PARK (AP) — Utah has announced plans to restore the state’s bighorn sheep population, including on two mountain ranges in Box Elder County, a year after a respiratory illness outbreak killed more than 100 sheep.

The Utah Division of Wildlife Resources unveiled plans last week to release 35 sheep on Antelope Island in January with the goal of increasing the island’s sheep population to 125.

Wildlife biologist Jace Taylor said only 26 out of 150 sheep survived the November 2018 outbreak on Antelope Island, but they were later euthanized.

Taylor said they still haven’t determined how the sheep contracted the disease.

State park employees are planning to build a fence on the south end of the island to help monitor and contain the sheep.

There are currently an estimated 4,150 bighorn sheep throughout Utah, including two well-established populations in Box Elder County: The Newfoundland Mountains, where officials hope to increase the population from 310 to 350; and Pilot Mountain, where the objective is to more than double the population from 60 to 125.