Food bank bighorns

Oak

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South Hills' last bighorn sheep put down

South Hills' last bighorn sheep put down
  • COLIN TIERNAN
JEROME — The Idaho Department of Fish and Game has lethally removed the South Hills’ last four bighorn sheep.
Fish and Game said the two ewes and two young rams likely represented the last remnants of a reintroduction effort that took place between 1986 and 1993.

Fifty bighorn sheep were released in the South Hills’ Unit 54 during that time period, but the population struggled from the outset. Bighorns in the Big Cottonwood area of the South Hills died off, and, even though more sheep were introduced, the herd continued to have difficulty maintaining healthy numbers.

By 2010, Fish and Game estimated the South Hills was home to 15 bighorns, and due to the proximity of domestic sheep and goat herds, the department determined new reintroductions posed a disease risk. Domestic goat and sheep herds can spread respiratory diseases to new bighorns. The population declined further in the 2010s, falling to an estimated 10 in 2017.

Continue reading: https://magicvalley.com/news/local/south-hills-last-bighorn-sheep-put-down/article_36514657-1a40-5175-a755-956139f5788f.html
This story highlights the typical outcome when wildlife agencies try to restore bighorn sheep populations too close to domestic sheep. While some have proposed recently that wild sheep advocates should accept greater risk in order to create new transplant herds in close proximity to domestic sheep by indemnifying land management agencies and sheep producers, this is not a good long term strategy for wild sheep conservation. It generally results in small, stagnant, diseased wild sheep herds.

For example, in 2002 the USFS, BLM, and FWP entered into an MOU with the domestic sheep grazing permittee in the Gravelly Range to allow the state agency to introduce bighorn sheep to the mountain range, guaranteeing that the permittee would not suffer a loss of grazing opportunity due to the risk to bighorn sheep. In 2003-2004 a total of 69 bighorns were released in the Gravelly Range, with a target population of 125. The population has since declined to about 47 animals. That's not sound wild sheep conservation. Conservation time and dollars would be better spent trying to recover and protect core native herds, as well as working to find win-win solutions to eliminating domestic sheep risk in historical bighorn habitat prior to reintroductions.
 
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onpoint

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There are rumblings (again) of the Bridgers sheep reintro idea resurfacing. Some interesting players are at odds over this one......................
 

LopeHunter

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Bighorns are doomed when domestic sheep roam anywhere where they can wander and cross paths. Is silly to think repeating the same risky placement of bighorns and domestic sheep will end with anything outer than a declining bighorn herd that eventually will collapse to merely be memories. Is sad and should be criminal.
 

OverlordBear

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I hate public land grazing...... For so many reasons especially because we import / export both sheep and beef from and to foreign countries.
 
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Oak

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Utah wants to put bighorn sheep in more southern Utah mountains, but woolgrowers fear they’ll be the losers

“We will kill any wild sheep that crosses the Beaver River,” Utah Department of Natural Resources Executive Director Mike Styler told lawmakers earlier this month. “Any time we have wild sheep anywhere close, we kill them if they wander where they shouldn’t be. We abhor that, and that’s why we won’t even look at a place [for bighorn sheep relocation] that is near domestic sheep.”
...
DWR envisions establishing a herd of 175 bighorns in a 100,000-acre area in the Mineral Mountains. With such a low density, about one sheep per 600 acres, agency biologists hope rams won’t be inclined to wander in search of mates.
I think it's poor practice for UDWR to introduce bighorn sheep in habit adjacent to (10 miles in this case) domestic sheep allotments, with the management strategy from the outset being that they will simply cull wild sheep than wander from their predetermined range. The UDWR and NGOs should work to ameliorate the risk before initiating the transplant. The plan to limit wild sheep expansion to an area totaling 100,000 acres contradicts basic wild sheep natural history and their desire to foray and expand their range into suitable habitat, as well as limits genetic flow between populations. It's an unnatural situation and should not be the management strategy of the wildlife department.
 
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