Lungworm infections are common among bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) in North America, and the predominant species reported are Protostrongylus stilesi and P. rushi. The only records of another lungworm species, Muellerius capillaris, infecting bighorns come from South Dakota, USA. At the National Bison Range (NBR), Montana, USA we found that across six sampling periods, 100% of wild bighorn sheep surveyed were passing first-stage dorsal-spined larvae (DSL) which appeared to be consistent with M. capillaris. By contrast, only 39% or fewer sheep were passing Protostrongylus larvae. Using molecular techniques, we positively identified the DSL from the NBR bighorns as M. capillaris. This is the first definitive record of M. capillaris infection in a free-ranging bighorn sheep population outside of South Dakota.
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Vol. 46 • No. 3