Press Release

F&G biologist Frances Cassirer receives national award for her bighorn sheep research

Cassirer’s innovative research has helped identify causes of bighorn sheep disease and mortality.

Idaho Fish and Game Senior Wildlife Research Biologist Frances Cassirer was recently named the 2022 recipient of the Wild Sheep Foundation’s Statesman Award. 

“Frances is a leader among our state and regional partners, and her research is cutting edge,” said Idaho Wild Sheep Foundation President, Bill London. “She has the respect and admiration of our partners and is seen as an individual who is an expert in the field of bighorn sheep research and management.”

The award is presented to government officials for their outstanding contributions to wild sheep conservation, and is not presented annually but awarded when an individual excels in their field.

Cassirer has used her expertise to assist in managing the health of bighorn herds in cooperation with a variety of groups and government agencies. Her research has led to critical discoveries in bighorn sheep health, including a better understanding of a particular bacterium, known as Movi, which causes disease and die-offs among bighorn sheep.

Her leadership of the “capture-test-remove” program in Hells Canyon is now being used by most western states and provinces.

Cassirer has long been a leader in gaining knowledge through cooperative research with universities, state and federal wildlife, and land management agencies. Over the last 25 years, Cassirer has been involved in numerous bighorn sheep studies, including the Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep Initiative. 

“Frances has dedicated her career to using research to resolve disease issues that have plagued bighorn sheep for decades,” said Fish and Game Wildlife Bureau Chief, Jon Rachael. “Her efforts have turned the tide for bighorn sheep management. Thanks in large part to Frances’ work, managers now have a tool that can be used to improve the health of bighorn sheep, increase survival and overall bighorn sheep numbers.”

Her research, coupled with data from other biologists in the Hells Canyon area, provided a better understanding of sheep migration and developed a model that helps biologists estimate disease risk to nearby herds.

Cassirer has been involved and co-authored numerous publications, including “Genomic Association with Pathogen Carriage in Bighorn Sheep” (2021) and “Dynamics of Pneumonia in a Bighorn Sheep Metapopulation” (2007). 

Senior Wildlife Research Biologist Frances Cassirer, Ph.D.
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University of Idaho

Senior Wildlife Research Biologist Frances Cassirer, Ph.D.
Creative Commons Licence
University of Idaho

Senior Wildlife Research Biologist Frances Cassirer, Ph.D.