Conservation officers shot a trophy bighorn sheep at Greenhills mine, near Elkford, after complaints that the animal was in poor health.
The conservation officer was called numerous times in the two weeks before he decided to put the animal down.
“We were called four or five times because people thought it was dead,” said Frank DeBoon.
“It was lying on the ground and not moving. When we approached it, it got up and walked off but was struggling. It was stumbling, and obviously underweight.”
He said the animal’s hip-bones, backbone and other bones were very prominent and the sheep was about 75 to 100 pounds underweight.
DeBoon said he knew some people were upset about the animal being shot two weeks ago, but it was in it’s best interests.
“I can understand why people are upset, but it’s just like a pet. If it’s suffering, it needs to be put down,” he said.
“Also, we wanted to be able to perform a necropsy on the carcass, to make sure it didn’t die of any disease. If we had left it it would have become the target of predators and then there would not have been anything left to examine.”
The animal was also shot in the neck to preserve the carcass for the vet’s examination.
“It is a trophy ram and will be put on display in a community place,” said DeBoon. “The horns alone weigh probably 20 to 30 pounds.”
He said the animal was about 10 years old and was probably struggling after a hard rutting season when rams can become very aggressive and get worn out from fighting.