Bighorn sheep receive well-deserved attention over the last week

WWP Online Messenger # 153

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Bighorn SheepOne of Western Watersheds Project's most ambitious efforts is our work to restore bighorn sheep to all suitable habitat on public lands throughout the West.

WWP's efforts to realize this vision includes succesful litigation against the Forest Service to require separation between bighorns and domestic sheep to prevent transmission of fatal disease to bighorn sheep.

In concert with our legal effort, WWP has promoted public awareness regarding bighorn imperilment with internet outreach and a media campaign to educate the public about the overwhelming scientific consensus that public land domestic sheep grazing endangers bighorn sheep.

Recently, WWP broke the news that the public land sheep grazing industry appears to have been playing fast and loose with science in its claims minimizing the likelihood of disease transmission from domestic sheep to bighorn sheep for the past 15 years. The story of this controversy has brought much-deserved attention to the issue of risks to bighorn sheep with coverage spreading across the front pages of western newspapers for the past week.

domestic sheep disease

Please take the time to read about this striking new development in WWP's effort to protect bighorn sheep. You can learn more by following the links below:

Group: U Idaho knew bighorn disease link after '94 ~ AP

Our View: You can't pull wool over the eyes of science ~ Statesman editorial

Letter: UI prof's daughter documented disease link ~ AP

Sheep on public lands drawing renewed attention ~ Bozeman Daily Chronicle

Nez Perce lose faith in Caine center - Idaho Statesman

Was bighorn research at the University of Idaho Suppressed? ~ Idaho Statesman

UI prof's daughter: Sheep research not suppressed ~ AP

Brief Bighorn Sheep Background

Bighorn sheep lambScientists and land managers have known for decades that domestic sheep grazing on public land spreads deadly disease to the West's cherished bighorn sheep populations. In Idaho, bighorn sheep numbers have dwindled to around 3,500 wild sheep, half of their population in 1990 and a mere fraction of their historic numbers in the state.

Despite this fact, public land and wildlife managers are held under enormous pressure from the domestic sheep industry and local politicians to deny the clear threat to bighorns public land domestic sheep grazing poses. The industry has invested enormously in obfuscating the overwhelming scientific consensus that domestic sheep on bighorn habitat results in significant die-offs of bighorn sheep.

For years the industry has denied that any evidence of domestic sheep infecting bighorn sheep with disease in the wild existed in official testimony before a federal judge, the Idaho statehouse, and the media.

This past week, WWP broke the news that not only did evidence of disease transmission in the wild exist, but that the very voices denying its existence should have known so as it was the very research center they relied upon to deny transmission that had documented two cases of transmission on the range 15 years ago.