Bighorn ruling could have broad impact on western grazing

Bighorn Sheep - Kim Keating, USGS photo
Bighorn Sheep – Kim Keating, USGS photo

A new ruling protecting bighorn sheep, although it has no immediate impact on the North Fork, has potential long-term ramifications beyond just grazing conflicts . . .

A ruling by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recognizing a connection between bighorn sheep die-offs and diseases transmitted by domestic sheep could have far-reaching ramifications on federal grazing allotments in the West.

The ruling earlier this month by the three-judge panel against domestic sheep producers upheld a lower court ruling in Idaho supporting a U.S. Forest Service decision to close sheep grazing allotments to protect bighorns.

“A lot of people were looking at this waiting to see what they did,” said Laurie Rule of Advocates for the West, noting it’s the first time a U.S. circuit court has ruled on disease transmission between the species.

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