September 18, 2015
Online Messenger #319
Today, Western Watersheds Project joined litigation with the Gallatin Wildlife Association,Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation and WildEarth Guardians to challenge the U.S. Forest Service’s authorization of sheep grazing in the heart of the Gravelly Mountains. The seven subject allotments on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest allow approximately 8,000 sheep to roam in direct potential for conflict with wild bighorn and grizzly bears.
The Forest Service has failed to update allotment management plans or conduct impact analyses for the seven allotments despite previous conflicts between grizzly bears and domestic sheep, which has left at least one grizzly bear dead. Bighorn sheep in the area are at risk of contracting domestic sheep diseases. The agency needs to consider new ways to protect the wild animals from domestic livestock, including a fresh look at removing private sheep from these areas.
Today’s amended complaint (PDF) claims that the agency violated the National Forest Management Act by the Forest Plan’s failure to ensure the viability of the bighorn populations and violated the National Environmental Policy Act for failing to consider the new facts regarding the presence of bighorn and previous conflicts between domestic sheep and grizzly bears.
WWP is represented by Cottonwood Environmental Law Center in Bozeman.