Wyoming Range Bighorn Sheep: adding domestics to the mix?

Bull_n_heat

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Jun 15, 2017
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162
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Wyoming
Not sure how many folks have seen this, but the US Forest Service (USFS) has proposed amendments to their Bighorn Sheep management plans in the Wyoming and Gros Ventre mountain ranges of Wyoming. A scoping letter on this issue can be seen at: https://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=58509. In short, the Forest is recommending some changes to the language that specifies how bighorn sheep are protected on the Bridger Teton National Forest.

On the surface, this seems like a fairly straightforward amendment: USFS will add protections for "core" populations of Bighorns and revise protection for "non-emphasis" populations, notably the Darby herd in the Wyoming Range. However, there is a lot going on beneath the surface. A recent WyoFile article ( https://www.wyofile.com/forest-service-moves-to-weaken-bighorn-protections-in-wyo-range/) demonstrates some of the ulterior motives that are playing out behind the scenes in this process. Essentially, what appears to be going on is that protections for the Darby herd are being removed to open the door to future reauthorization of domestic sheep grazing on several allotments that overlap the Bighorn sheep distributions and have been vacated since the 1970s. It's well established the threat that domestic grazing poses to wild Bighorn Sheep populations, so I see this as clearly an issue that the hunting community should be engaged in.

The Darby Herd is one of the most coveted bighorn tags in Wyoming, drawing annually to only max-points holders, so it is clearly a highly valuable herd even if it lacks "core" status. In addition to this simply being a bighorn sheep issue, the Wyoming Range also boasts enviable mule deer and elk herds that utilize high elevation habitats. Stocking of domestic sheep into these habitats could easily diminish the productivity of habitat for this iconic mule deer herd. In fact, the landscape already shows signs of degradation due to years of overuse in alpine meadows; in some areas, soil loss due to historical overuse is measured in FEET. This is to say nothing of what havoc has been wreaked on these watersheds that support multiple subspecies of Cutthroat Trout.

There are a ton of layers to this issue here, but I have tried to be as concise as I can. Please feel free to look into this a little deeper, or ask around to see some of the background on this issue. Seems like one to get in front of and make the voice of hunters known.
 

4ester

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Nov 2, 2014
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Steep and Deep
Thanks for sharing this, as it’s right out my back door. The only reason they would want to change the wording is to open it up to additional domestic sheep grazing. It’s crooked and sneaky...........


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Bull_n_heat

Bull_n_heat

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2017
Messages
162
Location
Wyoming
Thanks for sharing this, as it’s right out my back door. The only reason they would want to change the wording is to open it up to additional domestic sheep grazing. It’s crooked and sneaky...........


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It sure seems to be the modus operandi for the groups behind this stuff. Get your comments in and let them know how you feel.
 

morgan1h

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Jan 22, 2015
Messages
83
Location
Wyoming
Maybe I was just late in seeing the news, or, they had a conveniently short comment period.
 
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