ASI submits comments on proposed bighorn sheep capture
This week the American Sheep Industry Association submitted comments on behalf of the nation’s 88,000 sheep producers to the Bureau of Land Management and Nevada Department of Wildlife. In a Notice of Proposed Action, NDOW announced their intent to capture and relocate 20 to 50 California bighorn sheep from wilderness areas in northern Nevada to areas where populations are less dense. NDOW intends to take this action between now and February 2017.
ASI, the Nevada Wool Growers Association and individual sheep producers submitted comments expressing concern with the agency’s proposed action and encouraging NDOW to abandon these efforts. Specifically, ASI pointed out that a bighorn gather using aircraft would violate the Wilderness Act, the agencies have not conducted the proper NEPA analysis and review and that the agencies have not adequately addressed disease transmission concerns.
In addition to concerns about the process of the proposed relocation, disease transmission is a major concern. The population of California bighorn sheep in northern Nevada have experienced recent disease events, including polymicrobial pneumonia that necessitated a herd depopulation in early 2016. While there is no single, identifiable pathogen responsible for the most common respiratory diseases in bighorn sheep that can be clearly tied to contact with domestic sheep on the open range, until sound-science can be considered, any relocation of bighorn sheep with a known history of disease is unwise and risks the health of both domestic and wild sheep.
The comments are available at http://www.sheepusa.org/IssuesPrograms_Issues_BighornSheepConflict.