Bighorn Language Included in Senate Appropriations
July 1, 2016

American Sheep Industry Association President Burton Pfliger (N.D.) penned letters to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee expressing the industries appreciation for the sheep grazing permit language in the FY2017 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill.

"Science based and equitable domestic sheep grazing and bighorn sheep conservation policy from the U.S. Forest Service and the Bureau of Land Management is imperative and must provide a level of fairness to ranch families in cases where scientifically proven conflict exists in occupied bighorn sheep habitat," stated Pfliger. "Directing the use of the scientific animal disease expertise at USDA's Agricultural Research Service is a positive step, as is the directive for the relocation of sheep, if agreeable to the permittees and in areas of proven conflict, to alternative allotments.

"Neither of these practices have been implemented in recent years, as witnessed in the Payette Forest of Idaho, when four sheep ranchers lost their grazing resulting in reduced sheep production. This threat to the entire sheep industry - from meat packing to wool processing - is evident in the estimate that 10 percent of sheep permits on USFS land and 3 percent of BLM permits could be impacted by land-management agency decisions in occupied bighorn habitat.

"The timing of the FY17 appropriations language is helpful in that USFS Region IV continues to proceed with its bighorn management framework, a framework that the industry believes was built in collaboration with the Western Watersheds Project. This year, the BLM announced BLM Manual 1730 - Management of Domestic Sheep and Goats to Sustain Wild Sheep, even though there is no statutory requirement to do so," continued Pfliger.

Pfliger thanked Sens. Steve Daines (Mont.), Lisa Murkowski (Ak.) and John Hoeven (N.D.) for their leadership in securing language that directs alternative allotments be provided in situations where grazing is unusable beyond the control of the permittee, which would impact bighorn issues.

The full text of the appropriations language is available on ASI's website at www.sheepusa.org/IssuesPrograms_Issues_BighornSheepConflict.