Do people want to preserve wildlife? Do people want to preserve bighorn sheep? They’re the ones jumping around from one skinny cliff edge to the next. Most people would probably say yes. However, most people might be less readily affirmative if they felt it too much in their wallets.
In the film “Transmission,” a ranching couple didn’t want to be responsible for having bacteria infecting their dozens of sheep and having it cross over to a nearby bighorn sheep herd. They were willing to improve fencing and such to keep bighorn sheep from jumping in and out of the grounds where their ranch sheep did their feeding. They were willing to test their sheep and isolate the ones infected by the bacteria.
The ranchers also inclined to try an essentially untested cure, even though ranch sheep get only mildly sick. (The wild bighorn sheep die.) The test, not unlike our Covid tests, involves swabbing nostrils. Easy enough on ranch sheep.
For testing wild bighorns, the scientist-led crew needed to “shoot” and net and carry sedated animals to a test site. And they had to kill the wild sheep that tested positive. Everyone understood that the infected sheep were either unable to have babies or had babies that die from infection passed on to them.
“Transmission” conveys its little corner story of wildlife management, one example of the intersection of nature and human influence, be it ranchers or scientists. So many stories…. How do we figure out whether and how to attend to which stories?