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Bighorn Sheep Protected!

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March 3, 2016
Online Messenger #330

Yesterday, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a Forest Service decisionto exclude domestic sheep grazing on 70 percent of the allotments in the Payette National Forest! We’re celebrating the court’s affirmation of one of the best decisions ever made to protect bighorn sheep!

We have been supporting the so-called “Payette Decision” since it was finalized, and we joined The Wilderness Society and Hells Canyon Preservation Council as intervenors when the livestock industry sued to stop the closures. When the industry lost in Idaho District Court, they appealed it to the Ninth Circuit, where they lost again yesterday.

The Wool Growers lost because the Forest made a strong, science-based decision and backed it up with expert testimony. They lost because domestic sheep pose enormous health-risks to bighorn through the transmission of pneumonia-causing bacteria, and Americans want to see bighorn sheep protected. They lost because their industry is unsustainable and incompatible with the preservation of America’s wildlife.

Western Watersheds Project sincerely hopes to see more actions like the Payette Decision: proactive, precautionary closures that ensure native wildlife aren’t sickened and killed by someone’s profit-on-hooves. Just last month, anentire bighorn herd in Nevada was wiped out after catching pneumonia from domestic sheep, a risk the agency (BLM, in that case) refused to acknowledge, and now it’s too late.

It isn’t just bighorn, either. It’s tule elk in California, it’s bison in Montana; native wildlife are being sickened, displaced, or killed because of diseases passed to them from domestic livestock. That is wrong and WWP will fight to make it right.

Yesterday’s decision was a good one. Three cheers for science, and three more for this example of how to protect more wildlife across the west!

And many thanks to Advocates for the West for representing us in the case!

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