Bighorn sheep at risk with Idaho rep's bill

Posted: Oct 15, 2011

Written by

John Gale, National Wildlife Federation; Rob Fraser, Idaho Wildlife Federation; Craig Gehrke, The Wilderness Society; John Robison, Idaho Conservation League; and Jennifer Schemm, Hells Canyon Preservation Council

In the late 1800s, Idaho’s bighorn sheep were killed nearly to extinction by overhunting, forage competition and diseases from domestic sheep. Today, there’s a new threat to Idaho’s bighorns — congressional derailment of science-based recovery efforts.

Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, authored a provision in the 2012 federal budget that would prohibit public land managers from taking necessary steps to recover Idaho’s bighorn sheep by separating them from disease-carrying domestic sheep on public lands.

Under this provision, public land managers can only stand by for five years and watch as domestic sheep mingle with bighorns in places like Hells Canyon and the Salmon River Canyon, exposing bighorns to diseases for which they have no immunity.

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