Why are the Woolgrowers Litigating the Payette Sheep Decision 2 Years Later?

With little hope that they will prevail in Idaho District Court people are asking why the Idaho Wool Growers Association, American Sheep Industry Association, Public Lands Council, and sheep ranchers from Wyoming and Colorado have begun litigation now.  According to the latest gossip, the woolgrowers hope for a Romney Administration in 2013. The woolgrowers think that, if they file litigation now, they might be able to get a new administration to force the US Forest Service to settle the litigation in their favor once Romney is in office.

Let’s face it, the science on whether domestic sheep can pass deadly disease to bighorn sheep is strong.  This question is settled and the answer is domestic sheep do pass deadly disease to bighorn sheep.  The Payette Decision to close 70% of the sheep grazing on the Forest was sound and informed by thousands of public comments, public meetings, good science, and years of planning.  It was not an arbitrary decision.  Furthermore, it is clear that this new litigation is very likely to fail in front of Judge B. Lynn Winmill and his decision is very likely to stand on appeal.

Why, other than out of sheer desperation, are the woolgrowers bringing this litigation if this is the case?  It is clear that the woolgrowers want to reverse or contain the Payette Decision to just the Payette National Forest.  Woolgrowers are concerned that the science and process used to close sheep grazing on the Payette National Forest will be used to protect bighorn sheep that are threatened by disease across the West.  They feel entitled to graze their sheep everywhere they currently do despite a clear threat to bighorn sheep on public lands.  In response they have filed another frivolous lawsuit that has little to no chance at prevailing in hope that a crony in the White House will bypass the law and science in their favor like they always have in the past.


  1. Nancy Avatar

    “Why, other than out of sheer desperation, are the woolgrowers bringing this litigation if this is the case?”

    Perhaps because of their long “rich” history with the federal government re: subsidies?

    A dated article, but what’s a sheep worth THESE days when it comes to government handouts?


  2. Nancy Avatar

    Oh and a hop to the present re: McCain’s thoughts on the farm bill:


    “This is all part of Farm Bill politics. In order to pass a Farm Bill, Congress must find a way to appease every special interest of every commodity association from asparagus farmers to wheat growers. If you cut somebody’s subsidy, you give them a grant. If you kill their grant, then you cover their insurance premiums”


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