Now it’s up to the Governor.

Bighorn sheep near North Fork, Idaho © Ken Cole

Bighorn sheep near North Fork, Idaho © Ken Cole

This bill is not just going to affect bighorn sheep in Hell’s Canyon, it affects bighorn sheep throughout the state. It is political game management which can be changed at the whim of livestock industry pressure.

It does not address important issues regarding disease transmission and basically writes off recovery of declining bighorn sheep populations as “acceptable”.

The media has not reported that there has been an amendment to the bill changing the timeframe in which the IDFG must develop, with the permittees, best management practices.

Here is the new language in the bill:

“(E) The Idaho department of fish and game: (1) shall develop a state management plan to maintain a viable, self-sustaining population of bighorn sheep in Idaho which shall consider as part of the plan the current federal or state domestic sheep grazing allotment(s) that currently have any bighorn sheep upon or in proximity to the allotment(s); (2) within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act will cooperatively develop best management practices with the permittee(s) on the allotment(s). Upon commencement of the implementation of best management practices, the director shall certify that the risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep. The director’s certification shall continue for as long as the best management practices are implemented. The director may also certify that the risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep based upon a finding that other factors exist, including but not limited to previous exposure to pathogens that make separation between bighorn and domestic sheep unnecessary.”

This language ensures that disease transmission will continue and that it is “acceptable”.

Here is the old language:

(E) The Idaho department of fish and game: (1) shall develop a state management plan to maintain a viable, selfsustaining population of bighorn sheep in Idaho; and (2) within one hundred twenty (120) days of the effective date of this act will cooperatively develop best management practices with permittees for their federal and state grazing allotments that include or adjoin core populations of bighorn sheep as determined by the department. Upon commencement of the implementation of best management practices, the director shall certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population. The director’s certification shall continue for as long as the best management practices are implemented by the permittee. The director may also certify that the potential risk of disease transmission, if any, between bighorn and domestic sheep is acceptable for the viability of the bighorn sheep core population based upon a finding that other factors exist, including but not limited to previous exposure to pathogens that make separation between bighorn and domestic sheep unnecessary.

House backs Hell’s Canyon sheep bill
Associated Press

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About The Author

Ken Cole

Ken Cole, Buffalo Field Campaign's Executive Director, is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He was formerly the Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

8 Responses to House backs Hell's Canyon sheep bill

  1. avatar kt says:

    It places the Director of the Fish and Game in the position of being the Frontline Hack for the dying public lands sheep industry. And that industry IS going under – it could not exist without massive subsidies, and its members continue to exhibit unbridled greed and ignorance.

    The Bill is based on Caine Vet/U of I parties associated with the Idaho Woolgrowersand others lying about disease, bighorn occurrences and radio-collar data, etc.. WHAT, pray tell, will the Director use to make his analysis and “certification” about disease and disease risks? The LIES that Butch Otter’s own supposed “researchers” continue to spout?

    Everyone who has been paying attention knows that Fish and Game under Otter is stifled from making decisions based on science. It is already kicked into a corner by greedy public lands welfare ranchers. Witness the removal of Dave Parrish from being Regional Director in Jerome. Why was he removed? – the livestock industry (Brackett and Bedke) had long disliked that FG occasionally expressed concerns about the damage their public lands welfare livestock were doing to sage-grouse and big game habitat. Then Parrish dared to write a letter saying an industrial wind farm at China Mountain (where members of the Brackett family would profit enormously) might have some effects on wildife. Parrish was removed.

    NOW this bill makes Fish and Game even more subject to political strong-arming.

    Current science on everything from climate change to weeds to disease shows the disastrous environmental footprint that grazing hordes of sheep in the arid lands of the western U. S. has. The world is changing – and Idaho ignorance won’t stop it.

    I also don’t think that, following the swine flu outbreak, the lying and scientifically slipshod activities of the U of I Caine facility will escape federal scrutiny, and hopefully a clamp down. These same state of Idaho paid parties that lie about disease transmission between domestic sheep and bighorns also handle prions and other animal disease organisms that can infect people. If Otter signs this Bill, he is reinforcing lying about animal diseases, and has no place being a Governor in 2009.

  2. avatar jimbob says:

    We need a reckoning of the politicians in this country. It should no longer be acceptable (in fact it should be ILLEGAL!) to play political games or serve special or personal interests using your political office. How can we make these political actions (the ones like what Otter and the Idaho politicians who do not serve the interests of the people) criminal? Here in Arizona politicians actually have the nerve to pass a seatbelt law—so if I forget, or choose not to wear it I am a criminal by law, yet I am only hurting myself. Our politicians have no problem drafting many ridiculous laws like this which inhibit our personal freedoms, YET they will not police the political system WHICH IS HORRIBLY MUTATED from what it was intended for. It was intended to serve the needs of the citizens and protect them from tyranny, whether that was tyranny at the state, federal, or local level. It is now a matter of course that our government serves business and/or those with the greatest amount of money, power, or organization first. These Idaho politicians who support this type of bill are despicable! They are not alone, however, as we have their type in Arizona and in Washington.

  3. avatar jimbob says:

    Whoa—-maybe I was wrong. I just read the article about Otter’s stop at someplace called MIDVALE?! Is everybody in F’ing Idaho an F’ing sheep farmer antienvironmentalist or what? Maybe he does represent the people……Holy crap! By the way Midvalians there are a hell of a lot of cities in the United States where kids can’t stay because there are no jobs. I live in one. Should we turn every city and state into a S*&%hole so that kids can stay and have jobs?

  4. jimbob,

    I have always thought that the de facto assumption of Idaho Republicans and some DINOs (Democrats in name only) is that small rural towns are the real Idaho, and the larger population in Boise, Pocatello, Idaho Falls, etc. are not worth more than the minimum representation or manipulation needed to pull enough votes from there to keep them in office.

    Something similar is the case in other interior Western states, and in fact this political disparity is one reason I moved this blog from being just wolf news, to wildlife news and more general commentary and discussion about conservation politics in what I have dubbed “western wolf country.”

  5. avatar jimbob says:

    That’s a good assessment of our political system, Ralph, thus that’s partially the reason for my diatribe above. I also wanted to apologize to you for my profanity laced tirade—-It just REALLY pisses me off…..Sorry!

  6. avatar Tilly says:

    What a bizarre bill. How does it even help the ranchers to have a piece of paper from IDFG saying the risk is “acceptable”? Do they think that’s going to magically change the Forest Service’s mind?

  7. avatar Jay Barr says:

    The USFS has been fairly sensitive to what the state/livestock industry desires over the years, though I think on this issue they (Payette NF) have shown a bit more backbone than usual.

  8. avatar Debra K says:

    Midvale is basically a wide spot on US 95, with a few boarded up stores. This link says its population was 179 in 2007, plus had lower income and higher average age than the rest of Idaho: http://www.city-data.com/city/Midvale-Idaho.html. That puts it way under national medians.

    Sen. Larry Craig of the MN gay sex restroom fame hailed from Midvale. I often thought as I drove thru there that Larry had seemed to forget his roots and hadn’t sent any federal pork its way.

    Nor is it a sheep ranching mecca. Only 2 Payette NF sheep permittees hail from Washington County where Midvale’s located, and neither of them lives in Midvale.

    I suspect that this was likely a Jarbidge shovel brigade type organized effort from R. Shirts, one of the sheep ranchers who is hopefully about to lost most if not all of his grazing privileges on the Payette.

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