BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota wildlife officials say bighorn sheep are making a comeback in the state following a crippling disease outbreak in the Badlands.

There are almost 450 bighorns among populations managed by the North Dakota Game and Fish Department, the National Park Service, and the Three Affiliated Tribes Fish and Wildlife Division.

An outbreak of deadly bacterial pneumonia eight years ago cut into the western Badlands sheep population, but the bighorns have since rebounded to reach record numbers for two straight years.

The survey has seen an increased count for four consecutive years.

There were 19,127 applicants last year, wildlife officials said, meaning nearly 4,800 hunters vied for each available license handed out by the department. This year, 19,426 hunters have applied.