The American Sheep Industry Association (ASI) joined with the Idaho Wool Growers Association (IWGA) and the Public Lands Council (PLC) in submitting letters to Rep. Mike Simpson (Idaho) seeking congressional direction of the land management agencies regarding wild sheep habitat and domestic sheep grazing.
Spurious science regarding impacts domestic sheep may have on bighorn sheep populations has the potential to drive the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to continue making decisions damaging to the domestic sheep grazing industry. A thriving population of bighorn sheep is possible to achieve without jeopardizing private industry. Industry has already provided over $100,000 to ongoing research to protect against pneumonia-related threats in bighorn populations.
ASI, IWGA and PLC request Congress to consider language that would require the USFS and the Bureau of Land Management to not reduce or restrict domestic sheep grazing due to bighorn sheep unless alternative forage of similar quality and composition is made available in a timely manner. These alternatives should be offered on an expedited basis and be exempt from environmental laws including the National Environmental Policy Act.
The sheep industry fully believes that short of congressional direction on this manner, the industry will lose 100+ sheep operations and nearly one fourth of the entire production if federal sheep grazing is eliminated.
To read ASI's letter to Simpson, go to www.sheepusa.org/user_files/file_1229.pdf.