Net-guns are a popular method for capturing bighorn sheep, and is one of the safer techniques of capture available to wildlife officials. In the video below, South Dakota wildlife officials managed to capture and relocate 40 bighorns from Montana’s Rocky Boy Reservation.
A 1988 study published in the Journal of Zoo Animal Medicine found that net-guns had low rates of capture myopathy (also known as “shock disease”) and death. Of the 137 sheep captured in California between 1983 and 1986 using this method, only two died due to capture-related injuries.
Usually a net-gunner—sometimes called a mugger— ill sit on one side of a helicopter as it flies close to a group of animals. The mugger fires the net on the first pass, and then exits the helicopter to restrain the targeted animal.