Idaho state senator Monty J. Pearce, a rancher from New Plymouth, has introduced legislation that would effectively prevent transplant and relocation of bighorn sheep into the state of Idaho. The legislation also instructs state managers to “relocate or control” bighorns that come into proximity of “any private, state or federal lands that have any domestic sheep use, or any domestic sheep allotments administrated by the bureau of land management or U.S. forest service”.
Idaho Statehouse representative for the Idaho Conservation League, Courtney Washburn, responds to the proposed legislation:
It is my belief that bills like SB 1124 are a result of the actions [Western Watersheds Project] is taking. This has more to do with revenge against [Western Watersheds Project] than actual wildlife issues. It is unfortunate that the intervention of the Idaho legislature in this issue will likely be harmful to wildlife but it is a consequence of the approach Western Watersheds has taken on this issues.
The Payette Forest is obliged under the National Forest Management Act to provide for “species viability” when making land-use decisions under its 1982 regulations. Because it is nearly universally accepted among the scientific community that domestic sheep spread deadly disease to bighorns, the Forest is proposing in its preferred alternative that issuing domestic sheep grazing permits across many of its lands is inconsistent with its legal obligation to preserve bighorns.
Western Watersheds Project, The Wilderness Society, and the Hells Canyon Preservation Council had previously brought succesful litigation challenging the Forest’s decision to allow domestic sheep to graze in the Hells Canyon and Salmon River areas given the likelihood of disease transmission.
It remains unclear whether the Forest Service will acknowledge the states’ slaughter zones for bighorn sheep as adequate seperation, or whether the state’s aggressive management will demonstrate a further threat to bighorn viability given such threat to bighorns remains a condition of domestic sheep presence on a Forest.
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I see where Rocky Barker picked up on the story. Idaho bighorn bills would make sheep transplants nearly impossible. Letters from The West. Idaho Statesman.
My comment is that a 2 or 3 full curl bighorn rams are worth more than most sheep operations. I wish FNAWS (Foundation of North American Wild Sheep) would be more aggressive toward the legislature.
As you lose your job, health insurance, etc., don’t you wish the Idaho Legislature would give you this kind of attention.