Help Save Wild Bighorn Sheep

Your Comments Are Needed by March 3, 2009!


Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep Lamb © Ken Cole

Wild bighorn sheep are native to North America, and once numbered in the millions. But their numbers have drastically declined to just a few thousand. The biggest threat wild bighorns face is disease from domestic sheep.

Most experts agree that when wild and domestic sheep come into contact while grazing on the public lands, the wild sheep get sick and often die. What’s killing bighorns, they say, is a pathogen that is carried by domestic sheep. Bighorns with this pathogen can die or transmit a pneumonia-like disease to other bighorns. Lambs are especially vulnerable. Expert biologists and wildlife agencies recommend separating bighorn sheep from domestic sheep to minimize disease risk to the wild sheep.

Faced with declining Rocky Mountain Bighorn populations in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River regions of Idaho, the Payette National Forest is taking public comment on how to protect bighorn sheep from domestic sheep. Four ranchers have commercial grazing permits for about 20,000 head of domestic sheep on nearly 500,000 acres of public land in the Payette. To protect bighorn sheep, the Payette has proposed cutting nearly 60% of the public acres grazed by domestic sheep (called Alternative 7G).
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Alert on Idaho roadless areas. Meetings in I.F. and Pocatello Feb. 20 and 21

Alert on Idaho roadless areas-

On December 26, 2007, the Forest Service released its Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) that seeks to weaken protections for much of Idaho’s 9.3 million acres of roadless lands. Nearly 6 million acres of those lands would be opened to potential logging and mineral development. An additional 600,000 acres in Southeast Idaho and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem would be virtually unprotected, opening these backcountry lands to phosphate mining.

The details of the roadless plan for Idaho are available on the National Forest Service’s website:
More information about roadless areas, and their importance to the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem, is available on the Greater Yellowstone Coalition’s website.
A more comprehensive web site for all the roadless areas (it’s an interactive site) is at
Please attend and participate in the upcoming public hearings in your area. Times and locations of meetings in northern Idaho are below.
And finally, feel free to contact me if you have questions.
Kit McGurn
GYC Conservation Coordinator- Idaho
208 522-7927
Forest Service Public Meetings to hear comments on proposed management of Idaho’s roadless lands:
February 20, 2008
Idaho Falls
Shilo Inn
Grand Teton Room
780 Lindsey Blvd
Idaho Falls, ID 83401
6:00 PM
February 21, 2008
Holiday Inn
1399 Bench Road
Pocatello, ID 83201
6:00 PM
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