A fight is brewing over domestic sheep grazing in bighorn sheep habitat in Wyoming. The Biodiversity Conservation Alliance filed a lawsuit last year to protect the small Encampment herd of bighorn sheep from coming into contact with disease ridden domestic sheep which would likely kill the entire herd if contact between the two species were to occur. In reaction, the ranchers got legislation introduced that would instruct the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to remove a portion of the herd as retribution.

It seems as if wildlife on public lands belongs to only those with a monetary interest in destroying it. Nothing new here. Move along.

Butting heads: Ranchers unhappy with lawsuit; Bighorn sheep bill moves forward.
Rawlins Times

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About The Author

Ken Cole

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. We do not accept unsolicited “guest” authors or advertising.

27 Responses to Those Ranchers Will Get Rid of Those Nasty Bighorn Sheep One Way or Another

  1. Richie G says:

    Ken what else is new these fin ranchers make me sick they are killing such a beautiful place what else can I say,it is disgusting.

  2. Joseph C. Allen says:

    There MUST be a public UPRISING against the use/abuse of public lands by private commerce. Welfare ranching has got to end.

  3. DLB says:

    Any scenario that involves conservation values vs money is going to be a long, drawn out battle with a lot of ups and downs.

    Hopefully you folks at WWP don’t get too jaded.

  4. CodyCoyote says:

    Well, you know what they say . ” WYOMING—where men are men , the women are too, and the sheep are nervous. “

    • DLB says:

      You must be thankful for your sense of humor. I doubt someone with your values could have stayed so long in WY without one….

      • CodyCoyote says:

        Yup. Need humour.
        Can’t afford Prozac , Cymbalta, or Wellbutrin.

        As much as I like Lamb , I refuse to buy it because of lousy livestock policies.

        FYI— in it’s heyday , Wyoming ran over 7 million sheep , 3X the number of cattle. That is now down to less than 200,000 sheep in a good year, a reduction of ~98 percent.

        I am always astounded at how much political clout sheepgrowers still retain in Wyoming to this day , since they are an endangered species.

        • mikepost says:

          CC< you always have good things to say…but your math leaves much to be desired….

        • Ida Lupine says:

          Me either, I don’t think eating meat is ‘wrong’ necessarily – but I won’t because of lousy ranch policies either. And now their going after bison isn’t helping matters.

          Humor is always good. 🙂

        • Ralph Maughan says:

          Well, I guess we know who the real “takers” there are as opposed to the “makers!”

  5. Ralph Maughan says:

    The ranchers are in full cry. They are going to take back the West and teach the rest of us useless folks who is boss.

    In Montana they have 4 bills in the legislature to make shooting of bison anywhere in the state more or less mandatory, and they even want to go after the elk using their tired old excuse of brucellosis. If they really cared one bit about humans getting brucellosis (which is very rare), they would ban the sale of the only source of infection to people in the U.S. — consumption of raw milk.

    About the only kind of wildlife ranchers will abide are deer. Of course, to reiterate, it really isn’t about elk, bison, wolves, bears, or bighorn, it is that they don’t think we haven’t been treating them with the respect or showering them with the new subsidies they think they deserve as the masters of the land.

    They are also no doubt agitated by the selling of many ranches to billionaires. . . one of many examples Billionaire brothers buy another Idaho ranch

  6. Renae says:

    You know I love wildlife and thats why I come to your site. Some of the things you say are so untrue!! Ranchers DO NOT think bighorn sheep are nasty! In fact it is the other way around. You think sheep and cows are nasty. What in the world are we going to eat when the farmers and ranchers are gone?

    • Ralph Maughan says:


      When I say “ranchers.” It is shorthand. I don’t mean all people who own livestock, or even a majority of them perhaps.

      I mean those organized groups who claim to represent livestock interests. It is these people who go to the legislature and put people up to run for office.

      They are often officers in livestock associations. Some of them don’t own any cattle, sheep, goats, horses, whatever, at all. However, they will have a big hat and boots for when their job takes them to Boise or Helena or Cheyenne to do some “Howdying,” and “here is a bill that will save us from the menace of bison or bighorn.”

      Perhaps I should should say “that politically active and dominant segment of the livestock industry that has long held sway in Western politics,” but I just say “ranchers.”

      But in addition to that politically active and dominant segment of the livestock industry that has long held sway in Western politics there are also the wannabes.

      A lot of them grew up in California or Seattle, or Texas and watched cowboy movies (Westerns) that taught them about the way the West was. Unfortunately, for us, it was actually the way the West wasn’t. They moved to Montana or Idaho and bought ten acres and decided they were going to defend the Western tradition as expressed by Hollywood back in the day.

      • Immer Treue says:

        “Some of them don’t own any cattle, sheep, goats, horses, whatever, at all. However, they will have a big hat…”

        There exists a joke… No intention to insult the folks who use the old Cowboy hat for what I can only assume were/are it’s original functions

        What do cowboy hats and hemmoroids have in common? allow your creative imagination to fill in the punch line.

        • Nancy says:

          “What do cowboy hats and hemmoroids have in common?”

          They both come with asses? Disclaimer: that DOESN’T apply to all cowboy hats 🙂

    • JB says:

      “What in the world are we going to eat when the farmers and ranchers are gone?”

      Renae: I didn’t see anyone advocate getting rid of farming? And if you read Ralph’s post you’ll see he mentions wildlife on public lands (i.e., federal public lands that belong to everyone in the US). Personally, I have no problem with farming or ranching, so long as it’s done in a sustainable manner that does not degrade the surrounding environment.

      But to answer your question directly… given the amount of food and water resources that go into growing livestock, I suspect the future holds a shift toward plant-based sources of protein.

    • Jay says:

      I won’t be eating any cow or sheep, that’s for damn sure.

  7. Leslie says:



    Is it just a dream to have your own cattle ranch? Or mostly the tax write-off for these people?

    • Robert R says:

      Lesie this was his second ranch in Montana. His other one on the Dearborn River is eighty thousand plus acres. These are hobbie ranches.

  8. Renae says:

    Ralph, since you mean organized groups instead of ranchers then it would be considerate of you to start putting the blame where it belongs. It leaves some people to believe, like Richie G, that ranchers are killing a beautiful place, and they would like the ranchers killed. I believe ranchers help to keep it beautiful and you wont convince me otherwise. I live in a place where there are ranches and public land and it is very beautiful. Ranchers actually do take care of the land they own and lease. They have to, to ensure it will sustain their cattle. JB I am actually against feeding corn to cows. It would be much better for all if we just had grass fed beef. Unless there is a drought there is usually plenty of grass to go around. This might surprise you all but I dont eat beef or lamb either. I did grow a garden for the last 2 years and it sure took lots of water.

    • Ida Lupine says:

      To be honest with you, personally I would rather see ranchers on the land than having it broken up and subdeveloped and that sort of thing!


February 2013


‎"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