Conservationists File Suit Over Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Area

This lawsuit is over sheep grazing in the Centennial Mountains to the west of Yellowstone. The range forms the Idaho/Montana border.

-News Release-

Conservationists File Suit Over Illegal Sheep Grazing in Yellowstone Area
Groups Seek to Protect Bighorn Sheep and Other Endangered Species

SILVER CITY, N.M.— Two conservation groups sued the U.S. Department of Agriculture today over the illegal grazing of domestic sheep on more than 100,000 acres of public lands in and near the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem of Idaho and Montana. The presence of these domestic sheep, and management actions taken on their behalf, hurts sensitive and endangered native wildlife such as Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep, pronghorn antelope, lynx, gray wolves and grizzly bears.

The Center for Biological Diversity and Western Watersheds Project filed suit against the Sheep Experiment Station, Agricultural Research Service and Forest Service, all agencies of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The Sheep Experiment Station itself manages about 48,000 acres, where it is grazing sheep without any environmental analysis or consideration of impacts to endangered species. The Sheep Station also grazes sheep on over 54,000 acres of Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management allotments, where its permits have expired, management plans date back to the 1960s, and little to no analysis has been completed.
“It’s not the 1870s anymore,” pointed out Michael Robinson of the Center for Biological Diversity. “But the federal government is allowing grazing in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, with its world-class wildlife herds and rare animals, without permits — as if the West was still open range.”

“The Sheep Experiment Station is a relic of the past,” said Jon Marvel of Western Watersheds Project. “It is time to protect our wonderful native wildlife on these public lands lest we risk losing them.”
The conservationists point to systemic violations of the National Environmental Policy Act, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Federal Land Policy and Management Act, and the Public Rangelands Improvement Act. The conservation groups also sent the agencies notice of intent to sue under the Endangered Species Act.

The 100,000 acres of public land where the sheep are grazed include important connective habitat for any wildlife attempting to travel between the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem and the large wilderness and roadless areas of central Idaho.

Epizootic diseases transmitted from domestic sheep also threaten bighorn sheep herds.

Lynx, wolves and grizzly bears are further at risk from the sheep grazing by predator control measures, since steel leghold traps and strangulation snares, aerial gunning, and poisons are all typically used to prevent wildlife from preying on domestic sheep. Without environmental analysis the public has been kept in the dark as to impacts on wildlife.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a nonprofit conservation organization with more than 35,000 members dedicated to protecting endangered species and wild lands.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit conservation group dedicated to protecting and restoring watersheds and wildlife in 11 western states.

Editor’s note. Recall that earlier this year the Western Watersheds Project was able to use the law to keep domestic sheep from passing diseases to bighorn sheep in the Hells Canyon area of the Idaho/Oregon border.

More on the plight of Montana’s river dwelling grayling

This is a guest editorial in the Montana Standard written by Derek Goldman and Chris Marchion. It was not written by “staff.”

More on Big Hole River grayling. Montana Standard.

Posted in endangered species act, Fish. Comments Off on More on the plight of Montana’s river dwelling grayling

Western wildfire season is well underway

As I sit and write this in Pocatello, Idaho, the high smoke passing overhead (from the Cow Canyon fire) heralds an early beginning of the summer wildfire season, but Cow Canyon is hardly the only fire.

Headwaters News today has a “roundup” on the fires. The most damaging one is near Lake Tahoe and has already burned 165 homes.

Update. Wyoming wildfires multiply. Jackson Hole News and Guide.

Update on the Lake Tahoe fire. June 26. Firefighters Gain Ground on Calif. Blaze. AP. Well over 200 structures have now burned.

Update June 27. Horse Creek Fire in Wyoming Range continues to grow. AP

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Park Service regional director backs up Yellowstone Park on plan to close Sylvan Pass during the winter

Maybe the continuation of the incredible monetary subsidy per snowmobiler at the Park’s East Entrance during the winter will in fact be cut off. The NPS regional director is supporting Yellowstone superintendent Suzanne Lewis and the Park’s plan to close this little-used, avalanche prone pass.

Story. Park boss: Sylvan Pass danger palpable. By Ruffin Prevost. Billings Gazette (reprinted in the Casper Star Tribune)

Ex-Marine Kills 300-Pound Bear With Log

Ex-Marine Kills 300-Pound Bear With Log. The Incident Is the Latest in a String of Bear Attacks. ABC News

This was in Georgia . . . another 300 pound black bear. This story as written is a little bit contradictory because the article says the bear turned on his son, but at the bottom of the story, the ex-Marine was quoted “This one got a little too aggressive for me,” he said. “If the bear had gotten near my kids, I would have just jumped on it. Knowing me, that’s what I would have done, anything to make sure my kids were safe.”

Update: Man who killed bear with log is fined for improper food storage.  By Bo Emerson. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

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Posted in Bears. 19 Comments »