Refuge personnel searching for two non-native animals roaming land

If you have ever been to the parallel forest in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, you...
If you have ever been to the parallel forest in the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, you might have passed by the popular Dead Tree.
Published: Nov. 1, 2022 at 10:39 AM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) - Officials at the Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge are searching for a pair of non-native animals spotted earlier this year.

Over the summer, Refuge officials say four Barbary Sheep were seen moving through the area.

Aoudad (Barbary sheep). Photo courtesy of the National Park Service
**STOCK PHOTO FOR REFERENCE**
Aoudad (Barbary sheep). Photo courtesy of the National Park Service **STOCK PHOTO FOR REFERENCE**(KOSA)

They say the animals may have escaped from an exotic game ranch on neighboring lands -- moving to the refuge due to its similarity to its native habitats.

At the time, two of the four animals were removed -- but the other two remain at large.

Officials are concerned the animals may have diseases or parasites the native refuge animals may not be prepared to handle.

“The refuge has been pretty fortunate in not having a lot of exposure to other diseases over the history of the refuge,” Refuge spokesman Quinton Smith said. “Our herds have been in good shape. So new species of animals having that potential to bring new diseases is a big risk.”

Officials believe the chances of the non-native animals breeding is low.