Battle over Bighorn, part II

Battle over Bighorn: Opposing views on disease and economics. This is part II. By Sven Berg. South Idaho Press

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I posted part I earlier. Here is it again. Battle over Bighorn, part I.

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There is more on this on the Western Watersheds Project blog. “Dear Governor” – Bighorn, Mule deer opportunity, & domestic sheep in southern Idaho.

The blog shows the influence trail with actual documents.

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Update: Idaho bighorn plan could mean more wild sheep would be killed. Idaho Statesman. By Keith Ridler. Bighorn sheep in Idaho have dropped from 6500 in 1990 to about 3500 today. You wouldn’t know it to hear the domestic sheep lobby moan and whine. Now the Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group is nearing their recommendation to the governor. Not surprisingly, the “solution” will be to restrict the bighorn from reoccupying their native range and to kill bighorn that venture outwards from some boxed-in areas where they will be allowed to persist if they can.

The article says, “There are some 260,000 domestic sheep in Idaho, and they brought in more than $17 million to the state in 2006, according to the state Agriculture Department.” It doesn’t say how much the bighorn bring in, although a ram with a full curl has had tags sold at auction at $75.000.

$17-million dollars is a piss-poor return for an industry that monopolizes millions or acres of land in Idaho, much of it public land that could have abundant wildlife instead.


  1. J Timchak Avatar
    J Timchak

    This is a ridiculous choice, between bighorns and domestic sheep. I wonder what percent of Idahoans would choose domestic sheep over bighorns.

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    The livestock industry is an oligarchy; oligarchy is political rule by the few for the benefit of the few. It doesn’t matter what the majority of citizens think.

  3. Larry Thorngren Avatar

    I attended the bighorn meeting yesterday and along with several others, presented pro-bighorn views. Yesterday’s meeting was to allow both sides of the issue to voice their concerns and recommendations on the subject. We still have some time to send in additional information and opinions.
    There was no consensus on restricting bighorns from occupying new range and it is my understanding that the report will not be completed until all opinions are considered. If the final plan does restrict bighorns from moving to new areas, it will be because pro-bighorn views were not included. There were just as many of us supporting bighorns in the meeting as there were woolgrower advocates.
    I sent an e-mail to Governor Otter expressing my pro-bighorn views on the subject and suggest that others that feel the same way do the same.

  4. J Timchak Avatar
    J Timchak


    I have enjoyed your posts on a variety of subjects. On a personal note, I have a sister that recently moved to Dubois (Warm Springs). She is interested in getting involved with the Dubois Wildlife Association. Do you know whom she should contact? Thanks.

  5. Resource User Avatar
    Resource User

    The two have existed for 150 years in the west. I think this is more about personal feelings than trying to find a solution to a very complex problem. Domestic sheep and domestic cattle helped build the west and America still has the best meat grown in the world. What about the sheep grower? Who cares about him and all the products he provides the American consumer. Bet all of you wear or own wool products. When was the last time you are lamb? It’s a great low fat meat high in demand on the east coast and in many ethnic communities. What about the BHS? Where will they go? How far do we allow them to expand before we completely shut down all commerce? Sure they deserve to be here as one of the origonal wild sheep species in Idaho and the west, but hjow far do we go? IF you all are concerned about a viable population, why are they still allowed to be hunted……for sport? What knowledge is lost in a herd of BHS when a 6 or 8 year old ram is killed by hunting? What kind of confusion does this create in the sociological paterns of the herd. They do communicate and talk to each other. What learning is lost inside the herd that won’t be given to the lambs? This appears to be more about disliking the woolgrowers or sheep herders and thier use of the land. We can harp on each other about the positives and negatives of grazing until we are all blue in the face. Facts still do not point to the exact cause of the pasturella activation in BHS. There are way too many factors here still unsolved. Don’t just throw up your hands and dig your boots in the dirt because you disagree with the pro domestic sheep folks. Go to a lamb operation and meet the guys and talk to them. You will find out they are not much different than you are. Human. Hard working. Passionate about their work and their families and their way of life. Not unlike you are. Sit down and figure it out! Work together to a solution, not a road block and stagnation. Get er done!


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