MEDIA ALERT: Appeals Court Rules for Bighorn Sheep Protection FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 2, 2016
Contact:  Laurie Rule, Advocates for the West (503) 914-6388
               Ken Cole, Western Watersheds Project (208) 429-1679
Appeals Court Affirms Forest Service Closures that Protect Bighorn from Domestic Livestock
Boise, IDAHO – The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals today affirmed the Payette National Forest’s decision to close 70 percent of the domestic sheep grazing allotments on the Idaho forest, despite the self-serving protests of the sheep industry. Conservation groups intervened in the proceedings in support of the science-based restrictions meant to protect bighorn sheep from disease-carrying domestic livestock.
Domestic sheep operations pose significant risks of transmitting pneumonia-causing bacteria to bighorn, a disease with catastrophic effects in the wild animals. The resulting large scale die-offs are considered the current limiting factor in bighorn sheep abundance despite efforts to reintroduce and recover bighorn in areas throughout the West.
“Today's ruling shows that taking precautionary measures to protect native wildlife is a reasonable approach to managing our public lands,” said Ken Cole, Idaho director of Western Watersheds Project, one of the intervenors. “It also affirms that the methods used by the Payette National Forest were proper, and we hope this means more public land managers will start applying the same models when evaluating risk of contact.”    

“This decision affirms the thorough scientific analysis conducted by the Payette National Forest to ensure that viable populations of bighorn sheep remain in the Hells Canyon and Salmon River Canyon Mountains of Idaho.  The woolgrowers have failed to undercut this analysis through their political and legal maneuvering,” said Laurie Rule, senior attorney with Advocates for the West who represented the conservation groups.
“Uncertainty of transmission is no excuse for inaction,” said Cole.“We can’t wait for dead bighorn to show that there was a threat. The Forest Service was right to use a predictive model and manage livestock operations accordingly.”

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Western Watersheds Project, Inc
PO Box 1770
Hailey, Idaho 83333

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