Gov. Butch Otter set Feb. 15 as the deadline for The Idaho Bighorn/Domestic Sheep Working Group to get to him its Interim Policy for the Management of Bighorn Sheep and Domestic Sheep in Idaho.
The plan calls for buffer zones between domestic sheep and bighorn sheep, which by itself isn’t so controversial. But when wild sheep cross into the zone it appears Fish and Game could kill them to prevent contact with the domestic sheep, Matt Christensen reported in the Twin Falls Times-News
Research suggests that contact with domestic sheep passes deadly disease to the wild sheep that are among the most prized trophies for hunters and wildlife watcher in North America. Idaho Department of Fish and Game officials have been meeting with federal officials and others seeking to find common ground, at least on an interim basis.
But since a federal judge ordered ranchers to move their sheep out of portions of Hells Canyon last year to keep them away from wild sheep there is little common ground on which to build. Ranchers have expressed no interest in buyouts to move their operations. Fish and Game has also has not calmed the concerns of hunting groups and the Nez Perce tribe, which view the entire effort as a way to get around the federal policies that increasingly favor wild sheep over domestic.
I’ll be writing more about this later this week.