Rocky Barker: Bighorn sheep strategy won't resolve bitter controversy

Barker writes about Idaho Fish and Game’s decision to continue its policy to move or kill bighorn sheep that have contact with domestic sheep.

My view is the woodgrowers are getting more publicity than is good for them, but there yet needs to be some national news attention on this. The woolgrowers are also getting overconfident. Change is coming.






  1. Buffaloed Avatar


    “The plan the Fish and Game Commission approved requires
    bighorn sheep to be managed to minimize population expansion
    into domestic sheep grazing allotments, and prohibits
    transplanting bighorns into areas where there is a risk they
    could mingle with domestic sheep.

    Domestic sheep entering the buffer zones could also be killed as
    long as the sheep owner agreed to the action.”

  2. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins

    Well, how many woolgrowers would agree to that, eh?

  3. Concerned Avatar

    “as long as the sheep owner agreed to the action”

    Now that is the fox controlling the hen house!!!

    What about the big horn can be killed as long as the wildlife owners agreed to the action, namely the public!!!

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    This story needs to get to the national media.

    Stuck here in Idaho, these people do as they please, at least until the federal court slaps them back towards brief legality.

    Kind of like what I read about the South in the 1960s.

  5. Brian Ertz Avatar

    the sheepman determine the extermination zones with the agencies as well ~ no public …

  6. Robert Hoskins Avatar
    Robert Hoskins


    I’ve been arguing for some time that the situation we face in the West with conservation is truly analogous to what the civil rights movement faced in my native South in the 50s and 60s–not to mention the hundreds of years before.

    The livestock industry is fulfilling the same role that the KKK did. This is obvious, but our consensus and conciliatory conservation groups can’t see it because the big money is for C&C, not aggressive, principled opposition to Stockgrowners, Woolgrowers, etc.


  7. Buffaloed Avatar


    Date: February 15, 2008
    Contact: Ed Mitchell
    (208) 334-3700

    Interim Bighorn Policy Adopted

    Thursday, February 14, the Idaho Fish and Game Commission adopted an interim strategy on bighorn sheep to ensure separation from domestic sheep in Idaho.
    The strategy would identify and establish buffer zones between wild and domestic sheep to reduce interaction and the potential for transmitting disease.
    The commissioners approved the strategy during a regular weekly legislative update by telephone conference.

    A working group convened at the request of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter had not yet agreed on an interim strategy by the governor’s February 15 deadline. Idaho Fish and Game, in consultation with the Idaho State Department of Agriculture, developed its own interim strategy to serve until the working group develops a longer-term recommendation over the next few months. It will meet again in March.

    The interim strategy is consistent with existing policy and law and with Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies guidelines for the separation of wild and domestic sheep, Fish and Game Wildlife Bureau Chief Jim Unsworth told the commissioners.

    It provides a mechanism for the Department of Agriculture and livestock producers to work with Fish and Game to prevent conflicts, and it could be implemented in some places before livestock owners turn out their sheep this spring while the working group continues working on a long-term policy, Unsworth said.

    Unsworth is a co-chairman of the governor’s working group.

    “I’m encouraged that this discussion is moving away from an emotional approach to a more reasoned approach,” Fish and Game Director Cal Groen said at the close of the commission telephone conference Thursday morning. The approved strategy does not argue about disease or how it might be spread, instead it focuses simply on separating wild bighorn sheep from domestic sheep.

    The plan would establish buffer zones that would be determined individually and would take into account bighorn sheep habitat, natural barriers and movement of wild as well as domestic sheep. The zones also would take into account existing and proposed artificial barriers and domestic sheep herding practices.

    The interim policy also would encourage state and federal land managers to work with Fish and Game and Agriculture in cooperation with permittees to identify alternative grazing allotments.

    Removing sheep, wild and domestic, that stray into the buffers would involve hazing, capture or killing. Bighorns that stray into and mingle with domestic sheep would be removed in accordance with existing Fish and Game protocol.

  8. Buffaloed Avatar

    Here is another article from Idaho Mountain Express from Friday:

  9. kt Avatar


    I agree completely. In Idaho right now, with Butch Otter, it is worse, perhaps, than many fols cold imagine. it is government by cronies, for cronies. Butch otter’s natural Resources aid is Bonnie Butler, married to Wally Butler of the Farm Bureau.

    The Simplot cattle grazing cartel, the Farm Bureau, and Stan Boyd of the Woolgrowers, Canned Elk ‘hunters”, and Boise District Grazing Board, and their ilk run this state. Butch is just pretty much a figurehead – poses for colorful photos at times.

    AND the KKK analogy gets really weird when you think that Butch Otter along with Helen Chenoweth flirted quite a bit with the militias and Skinheads in northern Idaho in the early 1990s.

    AND what was the first thing that Butch Otter did as Governor? Held a SECRET “swearing in” ceremony! Seriously – he did.As a prelude to his all-star wolf hating performance on the Capitol steps in Boise a few days later in early 2007. It’s not just words that politicians speak – it is also symbols – like closed and SECRET ceremonies that send out messages.

    Go to Otter’s Webpage. Look at the Photo of all the Otter-Simplot Clan – wearing Big Black Cowboy hats. Wally Butler of the Farm Bureau has one just like that …

    Yep. Instead of white pointed hats and robes, these bozos have black 10 gallon headgear and really uncomfortable boots and jeans.

    The victims of the Otter Clan are our wildlife and public lands.

    AND I understand there are some really dark secrets in the past of Otter, too – just have never come out …

  10. Brian Ertz Avatar

    A working group convened at the request of Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter had not yet agreed on an interim strategy

    this was funny ~ woolgrowers kept insisting on ingratiating themselves by putting into the plan how important the livestock “culture” is and economic ‘contribution’ of $17 million in what appears to be substantially federal ag subsidies ~ welfare… … and NO MENTION of disease, wouldn’t want to infringe on the fragile egos by implying that it was the domestic sheep’s filthy disease that’s making this mess. that’s SCIENCE — develop an interim policy to protect the vectors ~ then call it bighorn policy !

    everyone knows what the problem is ~ domestic sheep … it’s really fascinating to see how everyone can know that but refuse to acknowledge it publicly…

    it’ll be interesting… with the sportsmen, tribes, and conservationists stepping up in the papers against this they’ll need to bring someone in to “legitimize” the process… someone with benevolent quotes to simmer it down. i suspect that’s where Robert’s comment about C&C bears fruit for them. i hope i’m wrong…

  11. Mack P. Bray Avatar
    Mack P. Bray

    kt, I’d like to communicate with you; please email me.

    Mack P. Bray
    My opinions are my own

  12. Barb Avatar

    I’ve noticed that the Colorado History Museum doesn’t even mention “predator control” in Colorado in any ONE of their exhibits, not does their gift shop even have ONE book on the subject!

    They have a lot of exhibits on the livestock industry in Denver; but they don’t mention one iota of it’s “ugly side!”

    It wouldn’t be politically correct I suppose! Maybe some of their major donors agree with lethal predator control or have high ranking positions in the livestock political arena?

  13. patricksperry Avatar

    Maybe because predator control was mostly left to the ranchers and farmers here? For some reason, we don’t have this problem with domestic sheep and Bighorns here in Colorado.

  14. Howard Avatar

    Anyone have a list of Idaho hunter/sportsman organizations that are fighting this, AND a list of any prominent so-called hunting orgs that have remained silent? It could be very instructive.

    Also…any one have info about different conservation/environmental groups are handling this? Specifically, which ones are taking off the gloves, and which ones are still trying to cooperate and compromise?

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