Three conservation groups want to stop domestic sheep from grazing on certain areas within the Payette National Forest. They fear Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep will catch diseases transmitted by their domestic cousins. These groups filed a motion in federal court this week to force the U.S Forest Service to further restrict sheep grazing.
In 2011, the Payette National Forest started a three-year plan to limit where domestic sheep and goats can graze to maintain habitat for bighorn sheep, but that’s on hold. U.S. Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID) pushed a rider attached to the 2012 spending bill. It stops the U.S. Forest Service from spending money to further restrict grazing for domestic sheep. Congressman Simpson says he’s not convinced that diseases are transmitted among different sheep in open areas. "We just wanted them to slow down for a while. We didn’t want them to reverse the decision and go back to what it was prior to our rider."
The conservation groups want the Forest Service to go ahead with the three-year plan. But the federal agency says it hands are tied because of the rider.
Copyright 2012 Boise State Public Radio