Domestic and Bighorn Sheep Conflict

Video: Domestic and Wild Sheep--The State of Things and What We Know About Disease - Sponsored by the Montana Wool Growers Association, the Montana Wild Sheep Foundation and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks - Feb. 9-10, 2017

Notice of Proposed Action in Wilderness Area -- Capture of Bighorn Sheep

Dec. 22, 2016 - ASI and Nevada Wool Growers Commnets
Nov. 22, 2016 - BLM Notice of Action
In a Notice of Proposed Action, the Nevada Department of Wildlife announced their intent to capture and relocate 20 to 50 California bighorn sheep from wilderness areas in northern Nevada to areas where populations are less dense. NDOW intends to take this action between now and February 2017. ASI, the Nevada Wool Growers Association and individual sheep producers submitted comments expressing concern with the agency's proposed action and encouraging NDOW to abandon these efforts. Specifically, ASI pointed out that a bighorn gather using aircraft would violate the Wilderness Act, the agencies have not conducted the proper NEPA analysis and review and that the agencies have not adequately addressed disease transmission concerns. In addition to concerns about the process of the proposed relocation, disease transmission is a major concern. The population of California bighorn sheep in northern Nevada have experienced recent disease events, including polymicrobial pneumonia that necessitated a herd depopulation in early 2016. While there is no single, identifiable pathogen responsible for the most common respiratory diseases in bighorn sheep that can be clearly tied to contact with domestic sheep on the open range, until sound-science can be considered, any relocation of bighorn sheep with a known history of disease is unwise and risks the health of both domestic and wild sheep.

Report Language Included in 2017 Senate Interior Appropriations Bill Regarding Bighorn Sheep and Vacant Grazing Allotments

Vacant Grazing Allotments – The Committee directs the Bureau to make vacant grazing allotments available to a holder of a grazing permit or lease when lands covered by the holder of the permit or lease are unusable because of drought or wildfire, or other condition beyond the control of the permittee.

Bighorn Sheep – The Committee directs the Service to complete Risk of Contact analyses using the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies’ occupied bighorn habitat maps, telemetry data, and recent bighorn observations. The Service is further directed to transparently and promptly share findings with other Federal land management agencies, State and local governments, State wildlife agencies, and State and Federal animal health professionals, including the Agricultural Research Service, permittees, and stakeholders. The Committee directs the Forest Service to engage the Agricultural Research Service and the aforementioned cooperating agencies and participants to ensure the best professional scientific understanding of where and if disease transmission occurs, and the degree of that risk, before making further management decisions that impact permittees. The Forest Service is further directed, if warranted, to use this base of information to swiftly identify and implement actions to resolve high-risk of disease transmission allotments, including if agreeable to the permittee, the relocation of domestic sheep to lower-risk allotments, with minimal disruption and displacement of permittees. The Forest Service is directed to provide bi-annual briefings to the Committee on its progress and adherence to the directives contained herein. Additionally, the Forest Service is directed to make vacant grazing lots available to a holder of a grazing permit or lease when lands covered by the holder of the permit or lease are unusable because of drought, wildfire, or agency action beyond the permittee’s control.

June 24, 2016 - FY2017 Senate Supports Appropriations Language - President Pfliger thanks The Honorable Lisa Murkowski for her support on bighorn conservation language in FY2017 Appropriations Bill.

BLM Releases Guidance to Improve Coordination and Management of Bighorn Sheep Habitat to Minimize Conflicts with Domestic Sheep and Goats

Policy is aimed at supporting healthy Bighorn Sheep populations

March 11, 2016 -- BLM releases policy guidance for the coordination and management of domestic sheep and goats and wild sheep and their habitat on lands administered and managed by the BLM.

Specifically, Policy Manual 1730 sets forth guidance for the management of BLM lands where the potential for disease transmission exists by interaction between wild sheep and authorized use of domestic sheep and goats. Today's guidance announcement aligns policy with the BLM's current approach to make informed management decisions on domestic sheep and goat grazing. The policy is not expected to have a significant effect on existing grazing levels.

The BLM manages domestic sheep grazing allotments on Federal lands and is working with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS), state wildlife managers, tribes and other partners to support sustainable bighorn sheep populations and habitat, and domestic sheep use on BLM–managed lands.

"This guidance helps ensure the health and well-being of our bighorn sheep populations, and their habitat," said BLM Deputy Director, Steve Ellis. "It is important guidance for us to use as we make land management decisions where these species may interact with domestic sheep."

The development of BLM Policy Manual 1730 is compatible with the USFS goal of "effective separation" – the spatial or temporal separation between wild sheep and domestic sheep or goats, resulting in minimal risk of contact and subsequent transmission of respiratory disease between animal groups.

March 2015 -- Documents Prepared by the FS/BLM Bighorn Sheep Working Group
Bighorn Sheep Risk of Contact v2 Users Guide

Bighorn Sheep Risk of Contact Tool, Supplemental R Package Documentation

February 23, 2016 - Secretary of Agriculture and Chief of the Forest Service Held in Contempt of Court for Use of Illegal Reports on Disease Transmission from Livestock to Bighorn Sheep

Background Information on Bighorn Sheep

April 23, 2015 - 2015 Congressional Letter Requesting Answers from USDA and DOL to 2014 Questions

September 26, 2014 - Secretary Vilsack's Response to Governor's Letter of July 9, 2014
September 26, 2014 - Secretary Jewell's Response to Bi-Cameral Letter of June 30, 2014
September 5, 2014 - Gov. Sandoval Letter Supporting Domestic Sheep Industry

September 2, 2014 - Appellants' Opening Brief in the Payette/Bighorn Sheep Case

August 25, 2014 - Memo to Forest Supervisors RE: Regional Bighorn Allotment Closure Moratorium

August 26, 2014 - ASI President Krebs Response to Oregon Hunters Association
July 22, 2014 - Oregon Hunters Association Letter Defending Bighorn Sheep

July 17, 2014 - Forest Service Response to May 12, 2014, ASI Letter

July 9, 2014 - Governor's of Idaho, Utah and Wyoming Share Forest Service Assessment Concerns with Secretary Vilsack

November 10, 2014 - USDA Response to Congressional Letter to USDA and DOI
June 30, 2014 - Congressional Letter to USDA and DOI Regarding Bighorn and Domestic Sheep Management
37 Congressional Signatures Supporting the U.S. Sheep Industry

June 16, 2014 - Jim Logan, DVM, Letter to Sen. Barrasso Supporting Congressional Support Letter to USDA

June 2014 - Region 4 Forest Service Presentation on Framework for Wild Sheep
One-Page Overview -- Domestic Sheep Grazing Within Bighorn Habitat

May 12, 2014 - ASI Letter Regarding USFS/ARS Cooperation on Bighorn Sheep and Domestic Sheep Issues

February 3, 2014 - Forest Service Region 4 Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Management Framework

January 2, 2015 - Modeling Risk of Pneumonia Epizootics in Bighorn Sheep
ABSTRACT Pneumonia epizootics are a major challenge for management of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) affecting persistence of herds, satisfaction of stakeholders, and allocations of resources by management agencies. Risk factors associated with the disease are poorly understood, making pneumonia epizootics hard to predict; such epizootics are thus managed reactively rather than proactively. We developed a model for herds in Montana that identifies risk factors and addresses biological questions about risk. Using Bayesian logistic regression with repeated measures, we found that private land, weed control using domestic sheep or goats, pneumonia history, and herd density were positively associated with risk of pneumonia epizootics in 43 herds that experienced 22 epizootics out of 637 herd-years from 1979–2013. We defined an area of high risk for pathogen exposure as the area of each herd distribution plus a 14.5-kmbuffer from that boundary. Within this area, the odds of a pneumonia epizootic increased by >1.5 times per additional unit of private land (unit is the standardized % of private land where global x¼25.58% and SD¼14.53%). Odds were >3.3 times greater if domestic sheep or goats were used for weed control in a herd’s area of high risk. If a herd or its neighbors within the area of high risk had a history of a pneumonia epizootic, odds of a subsequent pneumonia epizootic were >10 times greater. Risk greatly increased when herds were at high density, with nearly 15 times greater odds of a pneumonia epizootic compared to when herds were at low density. Odds of a pneumonia epizootic also appeared to decrease following increased spring precipitation (odds¼0.41 per unit ncrease, global x¼100.18% and SD¼26.97%). Risk was not associated with number of federal sheep and goat allotments, proximity to nearest herds of bighorn sheep, ratio of rams to ewes, percentage of average winter precipitation, or whether herds were of native versus mixed or reintroduced origin. We conclude that factors associated with risk of pneumonia epizootics are complex and may not always be from the most obvious sources. The ability to identify high-risk herds will help biologists and managers determine where to focus management efforts and the risk factors that most affect each herd, facilitating more effective, proactive management.

August 20, 2014 - Mid-year Report Presented by Dr. D. Knowles and M. Highland
Ongoing Research on Bighorn Sheep
Request for Funding from the Public Lands Endowment Trust
Research Proposal -- Bighorn and Domestic Sheep Interface Risk Analysis:
Public Land Grazing and Comparative Immune System Investigation

August 2008 CAST Commentary -- Pasteurellosis Transmission Risks between Domestic and Wild Sheep -- This Commentary reviews current knowledge on pneumonic pasteurellosis in domestic and wild sheep, the risks of transmission between these species, and approaches for lowering the overall risk of epidemics in wild sheep.

Maps displaying occupied bighorn sheep habitat with Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management domestic sheep allotments were developed in cooperation with the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) Wild Sheep Working Group. Occupied wild sheep habitat information was provided by individual State wildlife management agency while the grazing layers were supplied by the associated federal land management agency. Data for Forest Service allotments were derived from the INFRA database. Maps will be updated in the late spring or early summer annually to changed distributions of wild or domestic sheep. Click here for maps.

Industry In Support of Rep. Simpson -- By Peter Orwick
Bighorn Debate Not Just About Idaho -- By Margaret Soulen Hinson

Center of the Nation -- Belle Fourche, South Dakota
Chargeurs Wool (USA) -- Jamestown, South Carolina
Mountain States Rosen -- Greeley, Colorado and Bronx, New York
National Textile Association -- Boston, Massachusetts
Pendleton Woolen Mills -- Portland, Oregon
Superior Farms -- Davis, California


November 13, 2016 -- Rapid City Journal
After bighorn deaths in Deadwood, GF&P fears the worst

November 2, 2016 -- Billings Gazette
37 Bighorn Sheep Die in Montana Pneumonia Outbreak

October 14, 2016 -- Pinedale Online!
Thomans Give Up Upper Green Grazing
In late September, W & M Thoman Ranches herded their domestic sheep flocks down from the mountains of the Upper Green, where they had grazed since July, just as they had for every summer and fall for decades. But this time was different, because the Thoman family knew their sheep would never come back to the Upper Green for grazing. Read more...

August 19, 2016 -- WSAW-TV
Following Lamb's Death, Another Manshfield Zoo (Bighorn) Sheep Dies

August 17, 2016 -- Jackson Hole News and Guide
Teton Goats Must Die to Protect Bighorns

August 6, 2016 -- Bozeman Daily Chronical
Sheep conservation can breakthrough in Montana - by Gray Thornton Guest columnist

August 6, 2016 -- Yakima Herald
Potential for disease to spread among bighorn sheep draws attention of Forest Service - By Kate Prengaman

February 25, 2016 -- Jackson Hole News and Guide
Goatpackers Score Win Over Shoshone - By Mike Koshmrl

January 2016 -- Wyoming Wildlife
Skiers vs. Bighorn Sheep - By Kelsey Dayton

May 28, 2014 -- Wyoming Roundup
Bighorn “Viability” Regulations Threaten Domestic Sheep Industry - By Theodora Dowling

June 23, 2013 -- Elko Daily Free Press
Disease Kills Desert Bighorns Southwest of Vegas

May 29, 2013 -- The Jackson Hole News and Guide
Sick Goats Tiptoe North into Fragile (Bighorn) Sheep Country

July 16, 2012 -- Idaho Statesman
Rocky Barker: BLM Orders Sheep Out of Bighorn Land

July 15, 2012 -- Wenatchee World via Associated Press
Bighorn Sheep Health Worries May Cut Grazing Land

June 14, 2012 -- Summit Daily News, Colorado
Two Competing Species: Mountain Goat v. Bighorn Sheep

July 2012 -- Shepherd Magazine Reprinted from Wyoming Livestock Roundup
Enviros Target Bighorn Sheep on Medicine Bow National Forest

May 3, 2012 -- Billings Gazette
Highway Accidents Decimating Bighorn Sheep Herd in Thompson Falls Area

November 1, 2011 -- Denver Post
Border-tramping burros in Texas park's corss hairs

September 21, 2011 -- Livestock Weekly
Sheep Producers Are Challenged by Enviros Over Bighorn Issue

September 12, 2011 -- Western Livestock Journal
Domestic Sheep Losing Ground to Bighorns

September 10, 2011 -- Wyoming Livestock Roundup
Experimental Vaccine in Development for Bighorn Sheep

August 4, 2011 --
California man wins bighorn sheep lottery

September 20, 2010 -- The Jamestown Sun
North Dakota bighorn sheep population is healthy

February 24, 2011 -- Great Falls Tribune
Bighorn tag big moneymaker for sheep, FWP

March 14, 2011 -- Nebraska State Paper
Nebraska Bighorn Permit Brings $117,500

May 30, 2011 -- Denver Post
Bighorn Trouble

April 12, 2011 -- Associated Press
University Researcher Tests New Wild Sheep Vaccine

March 17, 2011 -- Idaho Statesman
Clashing Sheep Cultures in Idaho

March 1, 2011 -- Associated Press
Outbreak Kills Hundreds of Bighorn Sheep in West

May 2013 -- Letter to Rep. Simpson (Idaho) on Domestic Grazing Allotments September 2010 - Idaho Wool Growers Appeal to the Record of Decision
July 2010 - Record of Decision for the Payette National Forest

July 2010 - Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (FSEIS)
February 2009 - ASI Comments of DSEIS for Grazing the Payette Forest
October 2008 - Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement

October 2008 - Shirts' Comments to FS on DSEIS
May 2007 - Court Memorandum Decision and Order

Bighorn Working Session Recommendations -- June 14, 2011

Nat'l Forests in the West Domestic Sheep and Bighorn Sheep Habitat

Bighorn Sheep Meeting Presentations -- June 14, 2011

Reader's Digest Overview: Respiratory Disease in Bighorn Sheep
Peregrin Wolff, DVM -- Nevada Department of Wildlife

Update on Bighorn Sheep Vaccines
Michael W. Miller -- Colorado Division of Wildlife

Alternative Allotments
Ralph Giffen -- Acting Director of the U.S. Forest Service

Bighorn Sheep Occupied Habitat and Domestic Sheep Allotment Mapping
Melanie Woolever -- U.S. Forest Service
Tom Rinkes -- Bureau of Land Management