A Win for Bighorn Sheep in Montana!

Last week, Western Watersheds Project and our allies scored one for bighorn sheep on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest of Montana. Bighorn herds in the Greenhorn Mountains were threatened by the agency’s failure to consider the impacts of domestic sheep grazing in the nearby Gravelly Mountains.

WWP, Gallatin Wildlife Association, WildEarth Guardians, and Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation had filed the lawsuit against the agency’s domestic sheep authorization because of the disease risk posed to the Greenhorn herds. Additionally, the court found that the agency failed to analyze and disclose an agreement with the sheep permittees that allows them to kill bighorn that come near their herds and prohibits the agency from altering grazing management for the benefit of the bighorn.

The court ordered the forest to redo its analysis and consider the reintroduction of bighorn sheep in the area, follow the guidance for managing bighorn as a sensitive species, consider the kill permits in developing management alternatives, assess the scientific evidence of disease transmission, and address the reality that closed grazing allotments could be potential reintroduction sites for bighorn populations. Effectively, the court has ordered the agency to do the job it should have done in the first place!  

The order is available online here.



, , ,




  1. alf Avatar

    I worked on the Beaverhead from 1977 to ’87.
    It’s disturbing to learn that it’s still business as usual; that the leopard hasn’t changed it’s spots


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.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan