ASI Calls on Utah to Reconsider Bighorn Translocation
June 1, 2018

Citing concerns about the spread of pathogens between wildlife and domestic sheep, the American Sheep Industry Association and the Public Lands Council sent a letter this week to the Utah Department of Natural Resources supporting the Utah Wool Growers' position against transplanting desert bighorn sheep into the Mineral Mountains.

While ranchers support wildlife and sporting interests, the letter recognizes that too much remains unknown about the complex and multi-factorial pathogen transmission.

"Interactions and potential pathogen transmission between domestic livestock and wildlife have been a concern for many years," the letter states. "Unfortunately, the domestic sheep industry has been the proverbial scapegoat of this complex and multi-factorial issue for so much of that time that the stated intent not to force domestic sheep off the range in these situations is not enough to risk such an important part of Utah's livestock economy. We have seen a multitude of instances where assurances were made (verbal and written) that transplanting bighorn sheep will not affect traditional domestic sheep grazing, only to have those agreements later rescinded due to litigation, federal agency rulemaking, or both."

Citing emerging research demonstrating that the pathogen most frequently blamed for bighorn sheep die-offs has been found in a number of wildlife species, the letter urges the Utah Department of Natural Resources to find alternative options to meet their goals.

"These findings raise significant questions for the grazing community that is reliant on the Mineral Mountains range. We cannot condone a process that is set up to fail, especially when that failure is so often inappropriately blamed on the domestic livestock grazing industry."

The full text of the letter can be found at https://d1cqrq366w3ike.cloudfront.net/http/DOCUMENT/SheepUSA/Utah%20DNR%20Letter.pdf.