Western Watersheds Project files federal lawsuit to protect bighorn sheep in Hells Canyon.

A couple weeks ago I posted a news release from the Nez Perce Tribe how the Forest Service was not living up to their committment (mandated by an earlier court ruling) to keep domestic and bighorn sheep apart in Hells Canyon.

Now the Western Watersheds Project has gone to court. Here is their news release.

Western Watersheds Project Files Litigation To Protect Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep

On March 30, 2007 Western Watersheds Project filed a Complaint in federal District Court in Idaho against the Payette and Nez Perce National Forests for violations of their Forest Plans, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area Act and the Administrative Procedures Act charging that the two Forests have failed to protect Bighorn Sheep from disease transmission from domestic sheep permitted to graze on the two Forests in locations that risk die-offs of hundreds of Bighorn Sheep because of direct contact between domestic sheep and bighorns. The case was assigned to Chief Judge B. Lynn Winmill.

On April 16, 2007 WWP was joined in the litigation by the Hells Canyon Preservation Council and The Wilderness Society through an amended complaint. Also filed on April 16 was a Motion for a Temporary Restraining Order and/or preliminary injunction to prevent the turn-out of domestic sheep on five grazing allotments (Smith Mountain, Curren Hill, Marshall Mountain, Bear Pete and French Creek) on the Payette National Forest and one grazing allotment (Allison-Berg) on the Nez Perce National Forest.

Since turn-out on the critical bighorn habitat on the Smiths Mountain allotment is scheduled for May 15, 2007, the court has set a court hearing on the Motion for injunctive relief for May 3, 2007. WWP and the other plaintiffs are very ably represented by lead attorney, Laurie Rule of Advocates For The West’s Boise Office. Also representing WWP and the other groups and supporting Laurie with their excellent work are attorneys Jennifer Schemm of La Grande, Oregon and Brett Brownscombe of Portland, Oregon.

For more information including all the filings in this important case please visit the WWP web site legal pages.

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  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    I seem to recall hearing someone state “we would never let our diseased livestock intermingle with your wildlife” while testifying before congress about the buffalo issue. This is exactly what came to mind when they said it.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan