Bighorn Sheep

What We Do: Native Wildlife Recovery / Bighorn

The issue: Domestic sheep pass fatal disease to bighorn sheep, yet the Forest Service has been allowing domestic sheep grazing in bighorn sheep habitat within Hells Canyon and the Salmon River drainage.

What HCPC is doing: Working with a collation of bighorn sheep advocates to pressure the Payette and Nez Perce National Forests to close the domestic sheep allotments in bighorn habitat. We were forced into court again and again in 2007 because the forests refused to budge at first. But now the forests are closing the allotments. In fact, the Payette is working on a Supplement to their Forest Plan that will provide long-term science-based management guidelines for bighorn sheep. We expect to see a draft of this plan sometime in 2008.


Bighorn Sheep, Main Fork Salmon River. Photo: Kyla Zaret
Bighorn Sheep, Main Fork Salmon River. Photo: Kyla Zaret

In the meantime, the state of Idaho has drafted what we describe as a bighorn killing plan (pdf) that limits the unknowing bighorn to specific areas.

For the 1996 court decision removing bighorn from the Oregon side of Hells Canyon click here (pdf).

For the 1st 2007 court order removing bighorn from the Idaho side of Hells Canyon click here (pdf). The 2nd one is here (pdf). And the 3rd is here (pdf).

The High Country News prepared a great article summarizing the entire bighorn/domestic sheep controversy in October of 2007.