Judge Grants Motion to Restrict Grazing That Puts Bighorn Sheep at Risk

Oct 15, 2009

BOISE - One of the last remaining Bureau of Land Management (BLM) sheep grazing allotments in the Salmon River corridor was halted yesterday when U.S. District Court Judge Lynn Winmill granted a motion to restrict grazing that puts Bighorn Sheep at risk. The Wilderness Society and our legal partners at The Western Watershed Project and the Hell’s Canyon Preservation Council filed the motion in hopes of ending domestic sheep grazing on Partridge Creek Allotment where one of the highest threat to bighorn sheep exists. This ruling will effectively end public lands grazing in one of the areas of most concern for bighorn populations.

In recent year, TWS and our partners won successful suits on adjacent Forest Service land to halt domestic sheep grazing because of the conflict between domestic and bighorn sheep. Despite dramatic population declines to Idaho’s remaining wild sheep populations, what were once the most prevalent big game species in the state, the BLM has refused to take corrective action to prevent extirpation of bighorns. For the first time since the 1930’s, domestic sheep will not graze on the Partridge Creek Allotment.

Judge Winmill’s order will be in place until at least Nov. 2, when he plans another hearing.

View the judge’s order.

Statement of Brad Brooks, Regional Conservation Associate in Boise, Idaho

“This ruling represents an affirmation that wild sheep should not be sacrificed for the benefit of a few individuals,” said Brooks. “The judge’s ruling makes it clear that nobody should be allowed to exploit public resources for their own self interest at the expense of the public.

The entire population of bighorn sheep was at risk here. The 2009 Idaho Legislature attempted to take action to prevent further harm to the bighorn, but legislation simply wasn’t strong enough to prevent agreements that still put the population in danger.

All Idahoans, from hunters to hikers to wildlife watchers, value bighorn sheep, and this ruling truly is a victory for the public.”