Credit: Dave Sutherland, flickr.
The BLM has proposed removing domestic sheep from Idaho’s Salmon River watershed in order to prevent them from transmitting diseases to bighorns--a threat that has ravaged populations of the iconic animal in the past.
The plan under consideration would close three domestic sheep grazing areas that pose the greatest threat to bighorn recovery: the Partridge Creek, Marshall Mountain and Hard Creek allotments. While such a separation is the recommended method for fighting these diseases, livestock lobbyists are fighting the plan hard.
The Wilderness Society, Nez Perce Tribe and others have worked for years to remove domestic sheep from historic bighorn ranges in Idaho. Before that, Idaho’s bighorn populations had been devastated by contact with grazing domestic sheep. Today, nearly 300,000 acres in these rugged areas are free of this risk, and bighorns have made a big comeback. If special interests derail the BLM’s plans, these accomplishments would be severely undermined.
Closing these three grazing allotments to domestic sheep will remove the continual threat of disease transmission to resident bighorns.
Watch this clip from the National Geographic documentary “Untamed Americas” on how bighorns battle: