Court upholds critical protections for bighorn sheep in Idaho!

2nd of Mar 2016

Bighorn Sheep

IDAHO––  In an exciting win for bighorn sheep today, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the Payette National Forest’s decision to close 70% of the Forest to domestic sheep grazing in order to protect bighorn sheep from contracting an often-fatal disease from the domestics.

Bighorn sheep are gregarious animals and will commune with domestics if they are within their habitat range. These interactions cause the spread of deadly pneumonia-causing bacteria to the bighorn, which has devastating impacts on their populations.

Clear science shows the effects of grazing domestic sheep within bighorn habitat range, which prompted the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to close the allotments in question. Yet, despite the facts, the Idaho Woolgrowers Association (IWGA) challenged the decision in 2014. We intervened on behalf of the USFS, and just one week after oral argument, the court ruled in our favor. But the IWGA just couldn’t let it go and appealed the decision. Armed with an arsenal of facts and data to support our position, we quickly challenged the appeal; we’re elated today to see that the court’s opinion held strong and bighorn sheep will remain protected!

This welcome decision affirms seven years of hard work by Advocates for the West and our clients to restore viable populations of bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon and Salmon River Canyon of Idaho.

Read the full opinion by Judge Berzon of the Ninth Circuit.

Congratulations to Advocates for the West’s Senior Attorney Laurie Rule on this major win for the West! Clients in this case are The Wilderness Society, Western Watersheds Project, and Hells Canyon Preservation Council.