June 6, 2008
June 6, 2008 -One of the most significant threats to the viability of the sheep industry in the Western United States today is from the interaction between bighorn sheep (which are not listed under the Endangered Species Act) and domestic herds and the manner in which the federal lands are managed. This was the message sent to members of Congress this week by the sheep producer associations in the West.
The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) acknowledges the public's interest in maintaining viable bighorn sheep population, yet the industry also believes that fairness requires public officials to support sheep operations, many that have been in existence over multiple generations.
The organizations requested support for the inclusion of legislation relating to this topic in the mark-up for the Interior Appropriations Bill for fiscal year 2009.
States historically have been responsible for managing the wildlife within its boundaries. This responsibility becomes somewhat blurred by the concurrent federal responsibility to manage the habitat. The language being sought would reinforce the historic state responsibility for managing bighorn sheep in those cases where states have developed plans that provide for the support of those populations and for the resolution of conflicts between bighorn and domestic sheep populations.
The signators to the letter include ASI and Public Lands Council along with the sheep associations from the states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming. Staff contact: Peter Orwick, ext. 33 and Dustin Bryant, 202-484-7134