Wild Sheep Foundation Asks for Collaboration with U.S. Sheep Experiment Station

Share Article

Cromnibus spending package will increase risk of wildlife conflicts in higher-elevation locales

The Wild Sheep Foundation went to the negotiation table in good faith, and consistently delivered the WSF message while providing constructive suggestions to the large group of proponents who favored retaining the USSES in Clark County, ID.”

After five weeks of intense discussions and lengthy email exchanges, the Wild Sheep Foundation (WSF) announced it has been unable to reach a workable solution with domestic sheep industry representatives from Idaho and elsewhere on future operations of the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station (USSES).

“While productive discussions were held on collaborative disease research and a revised Recommended Mission was developed, an agreement was not achieved with domestic sheep interests on timely strategies to reduce risk of wildlife conflicts in higher-elevation locales,” said WSF Vice-Chair Doug Sayer. “The default Administration position is to close USSES next October so it’s unfortunate an agreement could not be reached.”

USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack announced last year that the USSES, headquartered in Dubois, ID, would be closed and staff and program funding reallocated to other Agricultural Research Services (ARS) locations. Implementation of the closure was postponed in the FY 2015 Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act.The Cromnibus spending package was agreed to by Congress and signed by President Obama in 2014.

When the FY 2016 Administration budget was published early last month, the intent to close the USSES by October 1, 2015 was still included. WSF was invited in late January 2015 to join an Idaho-led effort to reverse the administration’s stated intent to close USSES. True to WSF’s published multiple-use approach to the issue of interaction and potential disease transmission from domestic to wild sheep, WSF agreed to come to the bargaining table to reach a solution and recognize domestic sheep industry needs while also achieving tangible benefits for bighorn sheep.

WSF Vice-Chair Sayer of Pocatello, ID, WSF Conservation Committee Chair Jack Atcheson, Jr. of Butte, MT, and WSF Conservation Director Kevin Hurley of Cody, WY tried to negotiate an agreement and were supported by Idaho WSF’s Jason Pyron, Jerry Walters, Jim Jeffress and Montana WSF’s Brian Solan and Jim Weatherly.

“The Wild Sheep Foundation went to the negotiation table in good faith, and consistently delivered the WSF message while providing constructive suggestions to the large group of proponents who favored retaining the USSES in Clark County, ID,” said Sayer.

Sayer also said the WSF was clear in its support and repeatedly cited the need for an updated, revised Mission Statement for the USSES, jointly-identified collaborative research on interaction between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep, the cessation of domestic sheep grazing on upper-elevation ARS parcels in Montana and U.S. Forest Service allotments in Idaho, including those in the Centennial Mountains along the Idaho/Montana divide and the Snakey- Kelly allotment in the South Beaverhead Mountains.

“We feel strongly that WSF and our Idaho and Montana chapters sincerely and candidly participated in these discussions, but we didn’t reach a satisfactory agreement,” said Hurley. “We want to continue our efforts at collaboration, but there must be clear benefits for bighorn sheep. Our hope is that future discussions may be more productive.”

The Wild Sheep Foundation, formerly the Foundation for North American Wild Sheep (FNAWS,) was founded in 1977 by wild sheep conservationists and enthusiasts. WSF is dedicated to enhancing wild sheep populations, promoting professional wildlife management, educating the public and youth on sustainable use and the conservation benefits of hunting while promoting the interests of the hunter and all stakeholders. With a membership of more than 6,000 worldwide and a Chapter and Affiliate network in North America and Europe, WSF is the premier advocate for wild sheep, other mountain wildlife, their habitat, and their conservation. Since forming in 1977, the Wild Sheep Foundation and its chapters and affiliates have raised and expended more than $100 million on conservation, education and conservation advocacy programs in North America, Europe and Asia. These and other efforts have resulted in a three-fold increase in bighorn sheep populations in North America from their historic 1950-70s lows of 25,000 to 80,000 today.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Kevin Hurley

Wild Sheep Foundation
Visit website