Four environmental activist groups are asking a federal judge to order the temporary shutdown of a sheep research station on the Idaho-Montana border that they say is harming the region's grizzly bear population.
The lawsuit filed Friday, May 17, in U.S. District Court in Boise, Idaho, against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service contends the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES) is operating under a biological opinion that states no known grizzly bear deaths have occurred in the recent past near the station.
The groups contend that information they obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request shows that within the last eight years there have been grizzly bear deaths near the sheep station in the Centennial Mountain Range. As a result, the groups want the federal agency to complete a new biological opinion that considers all the grizzly deaths in the area.
The American Sheep Industry Association views the latest lawsuit a continuation of the harassment of U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) research officials by anti-livestock and anti-grazing activists. USDA has spent over $2 million responding to lawsuits and fulfilling National Environmental Policy Act requirements.
USSES, established in 1915, conducts research on sheep reproduction, genetics, growth and development, range management and quality of meat and wool. The station has about 2,000 domestic sheep on 1,765 square miles of land, including 27,930 Agricultural Research Service acres.