WildEarth Guardians

Travis S. / Flickr

The U.S. Forest Service is illegally jeopardizing a small herd of bighorn sheep with deadly diseases by allowing thousands of domestic sheep to graze in eastern Idaho as part of agricultural research activities, environmental groups have said in a lawsuit.

Western Watersheds Project and WildEarth Guardians in the lawsuit filed Tuesday contend the grazing of sheep owned by the University of Idaho via permits issued to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Sheep Experiment Station risks transmitting diseases to bighorn sheep.

Dan Dzurisin / Flickr Creative Commons

WildEarth Guardians accuses the Bureau of Land Management in Idaho of removing nearly 4 million acres from a previous plan to protect sage grouse habitat, and not being transparent about it. The environmental and wildlife advocacy group wants to see the threatened bird listed under the Endangered Species Act.