Simpson adds bighorn sheep rider again after Winmill ruling

If Idaho Republican Rep. Mike Simpson is anything he’s stubborn.

That might explain why he has once again added a rider to an appropriations bill that would allow the Soulen Sheep Co. to graze domestic sheep in bighorn sheep habitat on the Payette National Forest. Last week U.S. District Court Judge B. Lynn Winmill ruled the Forest Service reversal of its earlier decision to phase out grazing based on a 2012 rider was improperly done.

He issued a temporary restraining order, essentially preventing the Soulens from grazing their sheep on 7,700 acres of bighorn habitat. The issue is disease that biologists say is passed from domestic sheep to the wild bighorns, which don’t have the same natural immunity.

Despite Winmill’s order, the Soulens are still able to put their sheep out on 6,600 acres that is not scheduled to be closed until 2013. Simpson’s rider doesn’t try to overturn Winmill’s decision, but it would stop the final closure next year if passed by the House and Senate and signed by President Barack Obama.

What the Soulens want is a solution that doesn’t force them off their allotment. They point to promising research into vaccines that may protect the wild sheep but researchers say such break though medicine is 10 years off.

This sheep-bighorn conflict has grown in part because the sheep industry has hung on against all odds. Sheep ranching is once again profitable but the conflicts with bighorns, it once resolved with raw political power is no longer ignored.

The solution many wildlife managers support is the kind of zoning, which Wyoming has used with some success. Bighorns are allow to thrive in the mountains east and south of Yellowstone near Dubois, Cody and Jackson without domestic sheep.

But it has led to the hard to explain situation where domestic sheep are favored in the Bighorn Mountains to the east. Idaho tried to resolve its sheep issue with the same approach but there was nowhere ranchers agreed that bighorns should take precedence.

The Payette National Forest finally broke the deadlock with its 2010 ruling to phase out domestic sheep in bighorn habitat around Hells Canyon and the Salmon River. Simpson’s riders have been the Idaho Woolgrower’s Association’s last resort.

Simpson was unavailable for comment this morning.

Get a map

"Wyoming has used with some success. Bighorns are allow to thrive in the mountains west and south of Yellowstone without domestic sheep."

West of Yellowstone is 100% Idaho turf.

I doubt Wyoming's plan involves anything west of Yellowstone.


Version 2.0
"Bighorns are allow to thrive in the mountains east and south of Yellowstone without domestic sheep."

So EVERYTHING east and south of Yellowstone is preferential habitat for bighorn, as long as they are in the mountains?

Hmmm, that's pretty much all of Wyoming.

See, Rocko? It's like an 8th grader wrote this.

You haven't been to Wyoming if you think it's all mountains.

"No his mind is not for rent, to any god or government." Neil Peart

it's really crappy driving in winter though


You fry wants with that?

Tommy Flanigan

"Sheep ranching is once again profitable"

Yeah, yeah, that's the ticket.


that the Soulens have their own personal U.S. Representative. Even one that dosen't represent their district.

Well, it probably helps

that they are relatives of Lt. Gov. Brat Little.



You fry wants with that?

Invest in America

Buy a politician. What's your price Simpson?

Really Simpson

Then it should be up to Mike Simpson to fund the re-introduction of bighorn sheep after these worthless land maggots kill them all. Simpson just lost lots of votes, can you say unemployment Mike Simpson. Gotta love it when these career politicians show their true colors. Time for welfare ranchers to just go away.

You obvioulsy don't pay attention to Idaho politics

Simpson will win easily, again. He isn't doing anything he hasn't done for the last 12 years in congress.

I think he has moved to the right, but he is still the most moderate voice of Idaho's congressional delegation.


worthless land maggots?

VERY thoughtful comment Little Red Riding Hood.
Now carry on along to Grandma's house and be careful of the big bad wolf.
She is having lamb chops for dinner- you'll love it!

Never have

Never have and never will eat lamb. Yep in my book sheep are the most worthless animal on the face of the earth. Too bad there were not more wolves to eat more sheep.

Well Sherlock

And there we have it. It's not the sheep, the bighorn, the cattle, or the grazing fees.

You just hate sheep. Maybe you hate all animals. You are a hater.

My guess is you are a vegetarian too. Renewed your membership for Western Watershed for this year?


Who eats mutton anymore, and it's almost impossible to find it or lamb in the markets, we used to call sheep, mountain maggots, hardly anyone uses real wool anymore either, turn the wolves loose


Wool is a renewable resource. I don't think Spandex is.


are a renewable resource also. Just ask the Soulens.


Nope am a big game hunter, just finally ate all my deer meat. One of my favorite hunting spots is always over run with land maggots "aka sheep"
Yep I hate the fact that ranchers have destroyed our natural resources.
They get hand outs right and left. So I am just as much of a hater as you pimp. Oh and I don't wear wool either. So sheep are of no value in my life, ever.



You're losing it Mike.


You fry wants with that?

Simpson Doesn't Care About Idaho Hunters or Idaho Bighorn Sheep

Bottom line is that the Simpson rider is planned to continue forever. This is not a one year effort. And it comes with drastic effects to Idaho.

1. Simpson's Rider doesn't care at all about the Idaho hunter. Without separation between bighorn sheep and domestic sheep, the bighorn sheep are all going to die. Currently, to hunt bighorn sheep you need to apply for a special permit and if granted, it is a once in a lifetime opportunity. That opportunity will be gone for all Idaho hunters if the Simpson rider goes through again and again. The domestic sheep will be allowed to make contact and transmit fatal diseases to the bighorn.

2. Simpson doesn't care about the outfitters and guides who makes living via these permits. Simpson doesn't care about the little Idaho guy who struggles to make an honest living. He only cares about the Soulen's who have money to buy legislation. These outfitters pay a good wage for their employees and contribute to the local communities through purchases of food and lodging. The grazing herders are from Peru, make little money and then just send most of it home.

3. Simpson doesn't care about the economy of Lewiston. Of course not, he doesn't even represent those people. Bighorn sheep help contribute millions of dollars to the Lewis-Clark Valley economy via jet boat services and tourism and also don't forget, transport of hunters. I bet the Soulen's contribute NOTHING to Lewiston's economy.

Bottom line is that they can graze elsewhere on thier own private ground or thier other allotments...but the bighorn sheep can't. They are in their habitat. Keep the domestics out of the bighorn habitat.

Come on people of Idaho. Do we want to have hunting opportunities or not? Or do we want to continue to subsidize, with our tax dollars, the sheep industry that is killing OUR NATURAL NATIVE RESOURCE---BIGHORN SHEEP????

Folks--this isn't the environmentalist's against the sheep industry. This is the average little Idaho hunter against the rich who can buy Washington.

Yeah, yeah, keep moving it into enemy of the state land...

We're not going to die from it so try a better tactic.


You fry wants with that?

look out

be careful Ruby, the sky is falling!

What's the mutt say about

What's the mutt say about it??

sheep ranchers?

Isn't that an oxymoron? Since when did sheep herders become ranchers?