Payette NF supervisor decides to end sheep grazing in bighorn country

Despite full court press by Idaho woolgrowers, reason prevails-

Payette supervisor decides to end sheep grazing in bighorn country. Submitted by Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

By email I learned about 30,000 acres will still be open, but this is a big victory for Idaho  bighorn over an very entrenched political interest.

Payette National Forest Bighorn Sheep Decision Imminent

The Payette National Forest will be releasing its Record of Decision on July 30th

Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

Hells Canyon Bighorn Sheep © Ken Cole

After several years of litigation, the decision on how to manage domestic sheep on the Payette National Forest to maintain viability of bighorn sheep populations will be released on July 30. Several options were considered but few actually meet the so called “purpose and need” of the decision. Regardless of the decision, litigation will likely follow as there is a lot at stake.

Bighorn sheep, which have struggled with disease outbreaks caused by contact with domestic sheep, in Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyon will be affected by the decision. There are estimated to be approximately 1,000 California Bighorn Sheep and 1,800 Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep in Idaho and only 700 of those are native Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep which live in central Idaho. This is approximately half of the population that existed in the late 90’s and trends indicate further declines.

Of greatest concern to the bighorn populations in Idaho is contact with domestic sheep and the fatal diseases which they carry. The limiting factor in the populations continues to be pneumonia and not weather, habitat, or predation. If the adult bighorn sheep are not dying outright from disease through contact with domestic sheep then their lambs are dying within weeks of being born thus, the bighorn are not replacing themselves at a rate fast enough to keep up with other mortality factors and are continuing to decline in population. For years after an outbreak lamb survival is the limiting factor.

From an email sent today by Forest Supervisor, Suzanne Rainville:

“The Record of Decision for the Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement and Forest Plan Amendment Identifying Suitable Rangeland for Domestic Sheep and Goat Grazing to Maintain Habitat for Viable Bighorn Sheep Populations will be available to the public July 30 when it will be posted in the Federal Register. We plan to have documents available on the Forest website by July 27. I will be hosting a briefing of my decision on July 28 at the Boise National Forest Supervisor’s office at 10:00 AM in the Sunset and Bear Valley Conference Rooms. The address is 1249 S. Vinnell Way, Suite 200 (second floor above Social Security).”

Bighorns, domestic sheep don’t mix [in Washington State either]

Domestic Sheep/bighorn conflict is not limited to Idaho-

Most of our news on this issue has been in Idaho where the Payette National Forest is about to come out with an environmental impact statement on how to protect the bighorn. This will have national effects such as described in this story about the two animals in Washington state.

Bighorns, domestic sheep don’t mix. By Scott Sandsberry. Yakima Herald-Republic in the Casper Star Tribune.

Posted in Bighorn sheep, domestic sheep, politics. Tags: , , . Comments Off on Bighorns, domestic sheep don’t mix [in Washington State either]

Payette National Forest proposes drastic reduction in sheep !

There is a public meeting meeting Monday, Oct. 6 in Boise on the proposal.

A supplemental draft environmental statement just released by the Payette National Forest on bighorn sheep viability proposes a 61% reduction in domestic sheep allotment acreage to separate bighorn and domestic sheep, thus clearly protecting the bighorn from disease transmission of their domestic cousins.

A public information meeting Monday in Boise begins 6 PM. The meeting, which runs until 9 PM is at the Holiday Inn Airport 3300 Vista.

The management proposed  by the Payette NF is just the opposite direction from that proposed by the State of Idaho’s government, which is led by its noise by the sheep growers lobby. Rather proactive separation, the Idaho government wants to kill bighorn that get are approached by domestic sheep, or which come into contact with domestic sheep of their own accord.

Domestic sheep carry a variety of diseases that are transmitted to their wild cousins. Only brief contact with them can cause the loss of an entire bighorn sheep herd (usually from pneumonia).

This forum has had a large number of articles and discussion on this issue. To find them, go the “categories” and click on “bighorn sheep.”