Payette National Forest proposes drastic reduction in sheep !

There is a public meeting meeting Monday, Oct. 6 in Boise on the proposal.

A supplemental draft environmental statement just released by the Payette National Forest on bighorn sheep viability proposes a 61% reduction in domestic sheep allotment acreage to separate bighorn and domestic sheep, thus clearly protecting the bighorn from disease transmission of their domestic cousins.

A public information meeting Monday in Boise begins 6 PM. The meeting, which runs until 9 PM is at the Holiday Inn Airport 3300 Vista.

The management proposed  by the Payette NF is just the opposite direction from that proposed by the State of Idaho’s government, which is led by its noise by the sheep growers lobby. Rather proactive separation, the Idaho government wants to kill bighorn that get are approached by domestic sheep, or which come into contact with domestic sheep of their own accord.

Domestic sheep carry a variety of diseases that are transmitted to their wild cousins. Only brief contact with them can cause the loss of an entire bighorn sheep herd (usually from pneumonia).

This forum has had a large number of articles and discussion on this issue. To find them, go the “categories” and click on “bighorn sheep.”






  1. Buffaloed Avatar

    This is a very important meeting and I encourage everyone that can make it to attend.

  2. Debra K Avatar
    Debra K

    Great to have an agency propose real reductions in domestic sheep grazing! The Payette will no doubt get lots of political pressure from ID politicians and permittees, so let’s hope conservationists pay attention and attend this meeting in Boise.

    It’s also commendable that this agency is having a public session in Boise, as so often ID’s major population center is ignored in land management issues.

  3. vicki Avatar

    I amsending well wishes your way Buffaloed. I am in Colorado, and have no way to attend, but will cross my fingers for you.

  4. Ryan Avatar

    This is great news, I wish I could make the drive to Idaho to be there for this.

  5. Buffaloed Avatar

    I went to the meeting last night and there was a large contingent of conservationists there but, unless there was someone that I didn’t know, I didn’t see anyone from ICL there. SFW didn’t seem to be there either. Correct me if I’m wrong please.

    There was a lot of discussion about disease and risk of transmission with very conservative modeling used to back up what was being said. It was refreshing to see actual science being used in this process.

    There are a few things to be worried about if the proposed alternative becomes the final decision though. They said that if there were new confirmed observations of sheep in new areas then they would run the models and change the boundaries of the high risk zones but that they would also run the models every 5 years regardless. The models are based on telemetry data and confirmed sightings but this doesn’t seem to take into account what happens if there is a declining population. If the model is run and the boundary contracts then there is a possibility that grazing would re-open in areas where it shouldn’t and further reduce the population.

    The safest way, and the only way that they actually reduce the risk of disease, is to remove sheep entirely from the Payette Forest. They said that having less than one instance of direct contact per year, or one every couple of years, is enough to cause the loss of viability of the bighorn population and that is the bar that they set as the maximum risk. The proposed alternative, the one that they recommend, does not meet this criteria as it is based on very conservative data and does not take into consideration the possibility of sheep in areas where they have not been documented which is, dare I say it, a 100% possibility. There are sheep in places that they don’t know about or are not represented in their modeling.

  6. Ryan Avatar

    Was FNAWS there?

  7. Buffaloed Avatar

    Yes they were.


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