Idaho Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Group Waiting for Governor Otter

If SB1175 is signed into law collaborative group may collapse

Bighorn sheep lamb © Ken Cole
Bighorn sheep lamb © Ken Cole

Today there was meeting of the Idaho Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Group which ended early due to concerns of various groups about how Senate Bill 1175 will affect what the group does.

At the present time SB1175 is awaiting Governor Otter’s signature or veto and no-one is sure where he stands. The Idaho Bighorn Sheep/Domestic Sheep Advisory Group was formed at the behest of the Governor to address how to protect both bighorn sheep and domestic sheep but many in the group fear that SB1175 subverts this process and defines the policy of the State of Idaho without the input of all parties.

At the beginning of the meeting Senator Jeff Siddoway, a Republican sheep rancher from Terreton, Idaho and sponsor of SB 1175, was in attendance and was asked to describe what the bill does and to answer other questions. He seemed, to my eyes, uncertain about many of the aspects of the bill and could not answer some pointed questions about it such as what is meant by “appropriate separation” between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep and what exactly is meant by this passage:

It is the policy of the state of Idaho that existing sheep or livestock operations in the area of any bighorn sheep transplant or relocation are recognized and that the potential risk, if any, of disease transmission and loss of bighorn sheep when the same invade domestic livestock or sheep operations is accepted

Specifically, what is meant by transplanted or relocated sheep? Does this refer to sheep that will be transplanted or relocated or does it refer to sheep that have been transplanted or relocated.  Also, what does recognizing existing sheep or livestock operations in affected areas mean?

This kind of vague language leaves many interpretations open.

There were several constituencies in attendance and there were some predominant feelings about the effect of SB1175 from each of the groups. Sportsmen/wild sheep advocates overwhelmingly felt that the impetus behind SB1175 was to make a side-run around the collaborative process and dictate state policy without the input of the group or the public. Many of these groups stated that they would leave the group if SB1175 passed. The Idaho Conservation League’s John Robison said that they would leave the group as well if the legislation passed. The Nez Perce Tribe informed the moderator that they would not be in attendance with the legislation in play. The Shoshone/Bannock Tribe representative said that he would recommend to the tribe’s business council that they withdraw from the group.

The livestock industry people seemed to think that the legislation was good and did not interfere with the purpose of the group and most went on to say that they supported the continuation of the advisory group.

After the concerns of many members on the group were aired it was decided that the meeting should adjourn early without moving on to development of the charter which would determine the group composition and structure. There is another meeting scheduled for May 26th at a location yet to be determined.

UPDATE: Here is Rocky Barker’s Take:
Will Idaho’s sheep bill mean the end of collaboration?
Rocky Barker, Idaho Statesman


  1. kt Avatar

    Yes, and also Siddoway appeared early on, and was asked to explain his Bighorn Killing Bill.

    But Siddoway didn’t seem to really know the fine points of the Bill.

    But Not to Worry, it all would all be ok. No Big deal. The Bill just codifies the state policy, and “The Agreement”.

    He also said about disease causing bighorns to die: Maybe other things are going on and he wasn’t very familiar with Hells Canyon, but it gets hot there – 110 degrees, and domestic sheep don’t do well when it’s that hot, so maybe that’s what’s wrong with the bighorns!

    Next the Woolgrowers will be embracing global warming as a reason bighorns need to be gunned down by Fish and Game. Save ’em from overheating.

  2. Brian Ertz Avatar

    I think it’s important to note that the bighorn working group was formed and conducted under threat of similar legislation from sheepman last year as we see before the governor now. This “collaboration” business is a rigged game when played with Livestock – just as it was with wolves when the IDFG commission used ICL & Defenders to stage the idea in the press that it was an open and fair process – then did what they wanted anyway.

    In Idaho – “collaboration” is vanity with the good ol’ boy decision-makers doing what they want anyway.

    I wish that I could say the participants at the group would be as willing to take a principled stand and walk for the court vindicated science which precludes co-existence between wild & domestic sheep as they are willing to walk when confronted with the loss of access – I can’t.

    The whole thing has been a sham to maintain the status quo – bighorn will not persist under the conditions of business as usual.

  3. kt Avatar

    Here’s the thing: Once the Woolgrower’s figured out they couldn’t rule the group, they went whining to the Legislature. False testimony by Woolgrowers was given to the gullible Legislators. No chance for rebuttal I understand. Not that any thing would have made any difference.

    I think it shows that industry in Idaho collaborates only when industry can Win Big. Then it goes to political hacks to bully its way to get what it wants. A time-honored tradition – encouraged in particular by Larry Craig and his ilk. Speaking of Larry, the Midvale/Crane Creek area Homeboy – and isn’t somewhere close to Midvale where the first Legislator – Somebody Denny – who initially introduced this Bill was from?

    Then Mr. It’s Too Hot In Hells Canyon for Bighorn Sheep elk rancher and sheepman Siddoway took off with the current “improved”???%%%$$4 version. Hmmm. WHAT IS Larry up to? Consulting for the Woolgrower’s? Maybe he’ll be at the next collaborative meeting ….

  4. Brian Ertz Avatar

    p.s. – cute baby lamb photo Ken

  5. Virginia Avatar

    According to an article in the Cody, Enterprise, Shoshone Forest is studying what impact goats as pack animals will have on the wild bighorn sheep in the forest. This could affect almost 6,000 bighorn sheep on forest lands of the Shoshone. Most goat packing is now done on the South Zone, which is the areas near Lander and Dubois, and in the Fitzpatrick Wilderness. The fear, of course, is potential transmission of disease to the bighorns from a possible encounter with the domestic goats. Goat packing has become popular in this area, as there are fewer grizzly bears in the South Zone. The biologist, Lynette Otto, has stated that “Bighorn sheep have enough problems – we don’t want to risk their health.” Hopefully, they will determine that this is not a good idea.

  6. Ken Cole Avatar

    That has been brought up in these meetings a couple of times. Yesterday was the first time where there was any real discussion about issues.


Ken Cole is a 5th generation Idahoan, an avid fly fisherman, wildlife enthusiast, and photographer. He is the interim Idaho Director for Western Watersheds Project.

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Ken Cole