Idaho F&G will move to kill bighorns to keep them from mixing with sheep

F&G will move or kill bighorns to keep them from mixing with sheep. Interim strategy to prevent domestic herds from passing disease to wild ones has woolgrowers’ support but draws fire from sportsmen, Nez Perce and environmentalists. By Rocky Barker. Idaho Statesman.

So the outrage forced upon Idaho Fish and Game has been officially announced. This is basically how the state’s wolf policy was created too, and by many of the same lobbyists.

“The buffer zones, let’s call them extermination zones, are to be determined without public comment,” [Jon] Marvel [of Western Watersheds Project] said. “Even if you thought they were a good idea, creating them with secret meetings between ranchers and Fish and Game is wrong when it affects wildlife owned by all Idahoans.”

Where does self-styled “Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife-Idaho,” stand on the “let’s-kill-bighorn-sheep” to appease woodgrowers plan?






  1. Chuck Avatar

    I have already sent my letter to butch otter, not that it will do any good, but I really think we need to look towards his next election and get him booted outta office, butch otter has done no good for Idaho. Lets find someone that will.

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    This needs to go to court immediately.

  3. Chris H. Avatar
    Chris H.

    The public don’t get to comment on their wildlife? I am not a hunter but I suspect people pay a lot to hunt bighorn sheep. That alone should beg a public hearing. Or perhaps that is the way they are going to (re)move the bighorn from “sheep” range.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    An Idaho bighorn sheep tag was auctioned for $65,000 the other day, more than most bands of domestic sheep are worth. The record for an auction tag is $180,000 in 2005 when a Hells Canyon permit was up for bid.

    Woolgrowers win on these matters only because they do their dirty work under the cover of media darkness. The more this is covered, the more backlash, so keep talking about it.

  5. AJ Avatar

    Where in the hell is FNAWS???

    It’s the Federation of North American Wild Sheep
    . RM

  6. jimbob Avatar

    I’m so sick of the rhetoric and political mumbo jumbo. It should be told like it is….it is not just a decision against environmentalists and hunters. It is against the CITIZENS of IDAHO! It is also against our system of government. How is THAT managing wildlife to protect the interests of the public, which IDFG seems to print as it’s mission. Easy to see who they are really “serving.” If I had anything to do with this decision as an employee, a commission member, a legislator or even a rancher I’d be thoroughly emabarassed and would hide my head in shame (and maybe laughter.)

  7. kt Avatar

    This Butch Otter fully carrying out at the State level the kind of cronyism for ranchers that Larry Craig did so splendidly at the federal level. At the federal level, no Idaho rancher’s whine was too small for Larry to intercede with the BLM or Forest.

    Now Butch’s cronyism is exactly the same. Bonnie Butler, Butch Otter’s Natural Resource Staff person, is married to Wally Butler of the Farm Bureau. The Farm Bureau and lobbyist Stan Boyd are essentially running Idaho right now.

    The OTHER theme here – and it is the same for Larry Craig and Butch – is wresting control from the federal government and trying to put more power in the hands of the state – in this case the hands of the Agriculture Department, not whimpering cringing IDFG. This is about CONTROLLING what happens on BLM and Forest Service lands. At the sheep group discussions, there have been repeated references to Idaho’s

  8. Cidahoan Avatar

    State of Idaho Legislative meeting minutes don’t seem to wind up on web searches anymore but here’s some monetary background from last year’s session.

    Chairman Gannon: Thank you Mr. Jacobson. Now we will hear from
    Stan Boyd of the Idaho Wool Growers Association.

    Mr. Boyd: Grain prices are at a ten year high, as was just mentioned,
    which drives lamb prices. You should have the annual report. Our budget
    is not large. The Sheep Commission, which was the first commission
    created in Idaho as the regulatory animal health agency for the sheep
    industry, contracts with the Department of Agriculture to have the state
    veterinarian as their commission veterinarian. The Idaho Code authorizes
    the Commission to collect assessments for several different programs.
    There are no fees on livestock itself, but we collect our fees on the wool.
    The Idaho Code allows the Sheep Commission to contract with the Idaho
    Wool Growers Association for the actual running of the promotion
    program. The sheep industry in Idaho contributes about $100 million to
    Idaho’s economy.

    Senator Hill: Regarding the huge decreases in wool production over the
    years, why has it gone down so much? Mr. Boyd: The wool was valuable
    years ago but now meat is in much demand. Here in the United States,
    our wools are medium wools. The finer wools are from outside the U.S.
    The number one loss of the Idaho Sheep industry was to predators, such
    as the wolf.

    Senator Stennett: How can we help to enforce the federal H2 program?

    Mr. Boyd: The problem is bringing sheep herders in from other countries
    by contract and then the herders not fulfilling that contract by finding other
    work that pays more. The federal government is not interested in
    persecuting the herders because they are too busy keeping terrorists out.

    Vice Chairman Heinrich: Do you have a separate budget for animal
    damage control funds?

    Mr. Boyd: That is all under the Idaho State Animal
    Damage Control Board, which is a part of the Department of Agriculture. It
    amounted to about $800,000 total of which $400,000 comes from federal
    dollars. I can certainly bring you the exact numbers.

    Senator Schroeder: If I had one thousand sheep, what kind of profit will I
    make per head for a year?

    Mr. Boyd, it depends on the year, but it can be
    about a dollar a pound per sheep. Senator Siddoway can answer that
    question better than I.

    Senator Siddoway: The flock average is about one hundred twenty five
    percent lamb crop. The producers that exceed that percentage can do
    better, of course, but if you have a problem due to bacteria and
    antibiotics, like I did, losing close to half of your crop is the real difficulty.
    Of course, the wolf poses a real problem.

    Mr. Boyd: There was an RS that directed the monies from the wolf tags to specific l
    ocations. Upon delisting, the livestock industry may want to come in and
    amend the definition of a wolf to the list of black bear and mountain lion it can be filed
    upon. Then it will either be state monies or federal monies. That will be
    very difficult to determine when it comes to protecting livestock.

    Senator Schroeder: The bill introduced in Resources yesterday by
    Chairman Stevenson, Representative Wood and myself provided that ten
    wolf tags are to be auctioned off and the group auctioning them can retain
    five percent of the earnings. The wolf is not yet delisted and Idaho takes
    much pride in managing their large carnivores, which is a responsibility
    given to us by the people of the United States. When we have situations
    where these animals kill livestock, we must depopulate the individuals,
    but we must manage the program carefully, as well as receiving funding
    for these programs.

  9. Brian Ertz Avatar

    from what i understand, FNAWS is dealing with some of the same ag interest incursion inter-organizationally. better than SFW, who is flagrantly such.

    rumors of state legislation hanging over this have been passed around prolifically.

    this whole thing is shameful. there’s quite a few good folk who helped out with bighorn over the years ~ it used to be the case that bighorn expansion (in numbers and space) was seen as favorable. now, even while bighorn are dwindling due to domestics, the entire management policy has shifted thanks to stan boyd and his ilk. now, this “interim” policy marks the shift in management exactly opposite what it was before -bighorn expansion is a threat ~ hell, existing bighorn are a threat — and the IDFG has been reduced to carrying that mentality out. shameful.

  10. Heard Enough Avatar
    Heard Enough

    The one thing seemingly missing in the news coverage of this, or being purposely spun to ignore, is the State’s contention that bighorn sheep are wandering onto domestic sheep allotments. The real case is that domestic sheep have been allowed incursions into occupied bighorn sheep habitat. The State’s proposed policy is moot, unless the Forest Service chooses to accept it as part of federal land management guidelines (which wouldn’t be surprising since these directives flow from DC down to the forest)- if they do, there will be lawsuits aplenty, as this would be a direct violation of the Forest Service’s own mandates for ensuring species viability, etc.


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan