Sheep Experiment Station Followup Case
February 20, 2019 – Advocates for the West filed suit on behalf of Center for Biological Diversity, Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians in our latest federal lawsuit challenging the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Sheep Experiment Station (“Sheep Station”) for reauthorizing domestic sheep grazing in and around the Centennial Mountains in spite of the threat it poses to bighorn sheep, Yellowstone grizzly bears, sage-grouse and other wildlife species.
This latest case challenges the Sheep Station’s July 2018 decision to continue grazing domestic sheep in sensitive wildlife habitats, despite an insufficient environmental analysis that disregards the high risk of disease transmission domestic sheep pose to wild bighorns. Domestic sheep carry a pathogen that is easily transmitted to wild bighorn and results in the decimation of bighorn herds. The Idaho federal court recognized this risk in 2017 in our prior litigation, which prompted the closure of two Sheep Station grazing allotments due to the high risk of disease transmission to the South Beaverhead wild bighorn sheep herd.
The Sheep Station also failed to acknowledge the likely adverse impacts of allowing sheep grazing within grizzly bear habitat. In 2012, a male grizzly was illegally killed on Sheep Experiment Station grazing lands, and its radio-collar was found stuffed under a log in a stream bed. Grizzly bears were put back on the Endangered Species list in 2018 under court order.