Disease Jumps From Domestic to Wild Sheep

More reporting about the bighorn/domestic sheep disease study

Other than the study itself, this is the first time that I’ve heard Dr. Srikmaran talk about last year’s study which confirms that domestic sheep diseases kill bighorn sheep.

“I am not that happy about this finding. Some people’s livelihood depends on domestic sheep,” [But the] “organisms did not exist anywhere else. They could only come from one place, the domestic sheep.” – Dr. Subramaniam Srikmaran

Some people who support the sheep industry have made misrepresentations of what the study actually says. They say that “these data show that even extended fence line contact of 2 months didn’t lead to disease and death. Disease required co-mingling for a minimum of 48 hours and this was after transmission had already occurred in three of the bighorn sheep.”

I’ve had the chance to read the study and, in fact, it does not say that it took two days of commingling to produce disease. It says that one of the sheep died within two days of the beginning of commingling portion of the experiment. All four of the bighorn sheep, even the one which did not contract M. haemolytica during the fenceline portion of the study died within 9 days of the beginning of the commingling portion of the study. There is no evidence to support the claim that “disease required co-mingling for a minimum of 48 hours”.

Read the rest of this entry »

Three-state wolf death tally passes 500 for year

Majority have been killed for livestock losses-

Despite controversy over the wolf hunt, about 60% of those killed were because the wolves killed livestock, usually just one or two animals. The large majority of the livestock retribution killing was done by Wildlife Services, not by the owners of the livestock.  I would like to see how many of these depredation incidents were on public lands where livestock are grazed almost for free under the theory that their owners suffer loses from predators and bother from recreationists.

Wolf death tally passes 500. By Matthew Brown and John Miller.  Associated Press writers.

At the end of 2008, the official wolf count in the 3 states was 1650.

The writers data on the Basin Butte Pack is wrong if you believe Lynne Stone. It is good that they acknowledge this.

Sheep Experiment Station produces its first environmental analysis (EA) in its history

After many years in existence, Sheep Experiment State does NEPA analysis on their operations-

According to their web site the Sheep Experiment Station’s mission is  “to develop integrated methods for increasing production efficiency of sheep and to simultaneously improve the sustainability of rangeland ecosystems.” OK, but maybe folks would like to know the details.

For 90 years this large “research” operation in the Centennial Mountains on the Idaho/Montana border (Continental Divide), headquartered at Dubois, Idaho, has been a mystery to me.  It was also a mystery to Western Watersheds Project, NRDC, and the Center for Biological Diversity. So they sued and settled when the Station agreed to do an environmental analysis.

Now the EA is available for your information and comments (due by January 12). Here is the link to the EA.

The Station occupies a critical wildlife travel corridor between the greater Yellowstone area and central Idaho/SW Montana. It is vital for grizzly bears. We think there are also bighorn sheep on Mt. Jefferson, or at least used to be. I haven’t read the EA yet, but one person who has told me the analysis of this matter is poor.

This seems to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. So hopefully folks will take the time to look through it and comment. They only gave a one month comment period, although the NRDC has asked for an extension.

12-23-09. The comment period has been extended for two more weeks (to Jan. 25). Comments should be sent to USSES@ars.usda.gov

Ranching, recreation collide in the great outdoors

The story of what happened when a sheep guard dog attacked a mountain bike rider in Colorado.

Domestic Sheep © Ken Cole

A woman who was attacked by sheep guard dogs took her case to court and won.

Ranching, recreation collide in the great outdoors
By NICHOLAS RICCARDI – Los Angeles Times

In Loneliness, Immigrants Tend the Flock

Sheep Ranchers Claim Paying Minimum Wage to Workers Would Put them Out of Business.

Domestic sheep carry disease dangerous to bighorns and humans

Domestic sheep carry disease dangerous to bighorns and humans

This is an important article :

In Loneliness, Immigrants Tend the FlockThe New York Times

* Also, check out Captive Labor.

Environmental Costs

Domestic sheep ranching on public land is subsidized in many ways – environmental costs associated with the activity are largely covered by you and I – our tax dollars to slaughter predators that feed on untended sheep, blade otherwise unnecessary roads, build fences, abate weeds etc;  Our public lands leased at remarkably below market value, our bighorn sheep herds decimated by disease spread from domestic to wild sheep, our stream-waters rendered undrinkable, our public landscapes denuded precluding/depreciating habitat that might otherwise support untold numbers of wildlife – including big-game.

There are also the direct subsidies collected by sheepman – millions of tax-dollars for wool and other Ag subsidies.  But despite all of the ways that you and I prop up this destructive use of public land, their industry groups continue to maintain that if held to the same environmental and fair-market standard as nearly any other industry – even minimum wage for workers – they’ll go under.

Costs to Human Health, Safety, and Dignity Read the rest of this entry »

Idaho bighorn/domestic sheep consensus group meets, and sheep disease transmission not on the table.

Earlier, we ran an exclusive story that the livestock industry and various officials were having a secret meeting at the request of Idaho’s governor to counter the federal courts because they were insisting that sheep operations keep their disease-ridden bands away from bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon (Idaho/Oregon border) and on the lower Salmon River in Idaho.

Dec. 3, 2007. Rumor of high level Idaho meeting to conspire against recent bighorn sheep victories.

It was true, and the so the whole thing emerged on Jan. 7 as a consensus group meeting attended by a number of groups, but the agenda was tightly controlled.

Once again what is so fascinating is how little stockgrowers are concerned about passing livestock disease to wildlife.

The Western Watersheds Project blog has an interesting account of the group’s first meeting, at least I find it appallingly entertaining. Read “Bighorn Meeting.WWP blog.

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Similarly why is it that the ag lobby’s kept agency, APHIS, is doing so little about bluetongue which is a grave threat to whiletailed deer, pronghorn and a number of ruminant livestock.?