July 8, 2011
At the request of the Idaho Wool Growers Association, Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) included language in the fiscal year 2012 Interior Appropriations Bill that would slow the phasing out of 70,000 acres of domestic sheep grazing ordered by the U.S. Forest Service (FS) on the Payette National Forest until a vaccine can be developed that could prevent the transfer of pneumonia from domestic to wild sheep. The rider would be in effect for five years.
The bill was approved by the House Interior and the Environment Appropriations Subcommittee on Thursday, July 6.
Margaret Soulen Hinson, president of the American Sheep Industry Association (ASI), has been hopeful that a vaccine can make it more manageable to separate the two species without forcing domestic sheep off public land.
"We obviously had a species of wildlife that has issues with die-offs, and it needs to be resolved," she recently told the Idaho Statesman's Business Insider. "Is it fair to just blame the domestic sheep industry? I don't think so."
ASI and the Public Lands Council wrote in support of the language encouraging approval by the House Committee on Appropriations scheduled for July 12.
"Nearly one-fourth of the national sheep industry has a stake in the approval of this appropriations language. The $628 million contribution to the American economy and over 7,200 jobs in America are threatened today, and the Simpson language buys time for scientists, state and federal agencies, industry and bighorn sheep advocates to complete vaccine research and strategies for the coexistence of both sheep species," the letter states.
"Lamb and wool companies have become active in this issue due to concern about loss of supply and have joined sheep producing farm and ranch families in support of Chairman Simpson's effort to buy time to resolve this issue in an equitable manner," according to Peter Orwick, ASI executive director.
Reprinted in part from voices.IdahoStateman.com