Rancher & state senator Monty Pearce

Rancher & state senator Monty Pearce

Idaho state senator Monty J. Pearce, a rancher from New Plymouth, has introduced legislation that would effectively prevent transplant and relocation of bighorn sheep into the state of Idaho.  The legislation also instructs state managers to “relocate or control” bighorns that come into proximity of “any private, state or federal lands that have any domestic sheep use, or any domestic sheep allotments administrated by the bureau of land management or U.S. forest service”.

Idaho Senate Bill 1124

Idaho Statehouse representative for the Idaho Conservation League, Courtney Washburn, responds to the proposed legislation:

It is my belief that bills like SB 1124 are a result of the actions [Western Watersheds Project] is taking.  This has more to do with revenge against [Western Watersheds Project] than actual wildlife issues.  It is unfortunate that the intervention of the Idaho legislature in this issue will likely be harmful to wildlife but it is a consequence of the approach Western Watersheds has taken on this issues.

The Payette Forest is obliged under the National Forest Management Act to provide for “species viability” when making land-use decisions under its 1982 regulations.  Because it is nearly universally accepted among the scientific community that domestic sheep spread deadly disease to bighorns, the Forest is proposing in its preferred alternative that issuing domestic sheep grazing permits across many of its lands is inconsistent with its legal obligation to preserve bighorns.

Western Watersheds Project, The Wilderness Society, and the Hells Canyon Preservation Council had previously brought succesful litigation challenging the Forest’s decision to allow domestic sheep to graze in the Hells Canyon and Salmon River areas given the likelihood of disease transmission.

It remains unclear whether the Forest Service will acknowledge the states’ slaughter zones for bighorn sheep as adequate seperation, or whether the state’s aggressive management will demonstrate a further threat to bighorn viability given such threat to bighorns remains a condition of domestic sheep presence on a Forest.

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I see where Rocky Barker picked up on the story. Idaho bighorn bills would make sheep transplants nearly impossible. Letters from The West. Idaho Statesman.

My comment is that a 2 or 3 full curl bighorn rams are worth more than most sheep operations. I wish FNAWS (Foundation of North American Wild Sheep) would be more aggressive toward the legislature.

As you lose your job, health insurance, etc., don’t you wish the Idaho Legislature would give you this kind of attention.

Ralph Maughan

About The Author

Brian Ertz

9 Responses to Idaho Legislature Takes Aim at Bighorn Sheep

  1. Ken Cole says:

    Courtney may be right about this being retribution against WWP but what does she expect? Does ICL believe that WWP should not stand up for bighorn sheep on public lands? That’s not going to happen. If WWP sits back then bighorn sheep will die from exposure to disease. There have already been severe declines of bighorn sheep due to domestic sheep diseases and numbers are still falling.

    Where does ICL stand on this? I want to know. Is their approach to blame WWP and stand back and do nothing?

  2. Ken Cole says:

    Same culprits

    Here are subsidies received:

    Soulen Livestock Co received payments totaling $1,010,401 from 1995 through 2006

    Ron Shirts received payments totaling $214,707 from 1995 through 2006

    Frank Shirts Jr received payments totaling $775,817 from 1995 through 2006

    Guy M Carlson received payments totaling $110,307 from 1995 through 2006

  3. Tilly says:

    Where is the Washburn quote from? I don’t see any article linked.

  4. Ryan says:

    The only word I can say about this is inappropiate. What nonsense, I’ll be writing my contacts in Idaho today.

  5. Debra K says:

    ICL=Idaho Compromise League. “Selling out Idaho since 1973.”

  6. Dave Ausband says:

    Management directives such as these will only force USFWS to list bighorns in the future and take away all state control and decision-making ability. I just hope we don’t drive bighorns to the precipice before reasonable conservation practices can be put in place.

  7. Ken Cole says:

    I heard during a conference call about this yesterday that there are only 1500 free-ranging bighorn left in Idaho down from an estimated population of 100,000.

  8. Barb says:

    Hey, Ryan, despite our differences, I’m really glad you are willing to make that call — if more conservation-minded people took action — just picked up the phone or sent one e-mail, it can make a big difference.

  9. Ryan says:


    These are the issues that I look for on this website. Contrary to popular belief, I’m very involved in meeting in meetings in my home state that deal with public land issues and screwing native wildlife. (granted the ones I hunt mostly) But I helped fight a big land grab a few months back that delt with a screwy deal to trade 1000 acres in the steen for 10K in the silvies. Anything to protect wild sheep as they are one of the most amazing noble animals on the face of the planet. (plus I F******* hate domestic sheep as the damage they do to the range is atrocious). I make it a point to be involved in trying to preserve my heritage so that some day I can take my kids to the woods with me whether it be hiking or hunting I want them to have the same opportunities I do.


February 2009


‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey