Bighorn Sheep Articles
As most of you probably know, NAPgA is a member of the Wild Sheep Foundation. One reason is so we can keep an eye on developments. The WSF sends out newsletters every so often with links to other news articles about bighorns from around the west. I found today's newsletter very interesting but also very sad. 

This first article is about a conservation group that is challenging Montana's bighorn management plan. They say the current strategy isolates small herds too much, causing them to be unhealthy. I would certainly agree with that assessment, but I'm not sure I like the conclusion that follows... that wild herd territory should be expanded at the expense of grazing allotments for domestic sheep. I strongly believe that healthy wild herds have nothing to fear from diseases carried by domestics. If domestic animals can coexist with pathogens, so can wild herds. But not if we haze them into isolation!

These next two articles make me want to cry. They are in my own state of Colorado and I'm tempted try to contact some of the folks in charge of these programs and scream "WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU THINKING???"

Here we are, chasing down bighorns in helicopters in the Weminuche Wilderness Area. The Weminuche felt like my backyard growing up. It's the largest wilderness area in Colorado and has never experienced a bighorn sheep die-off. Domestic sheep have grazed there for 100 years. They have coexisted in peace without tragedy, but now the authorities want to collar and track the bighorns so they can more effectively "manage" them. If these authorities would just sit down and TALK to the local hunters and outfitters, they would already know where the bighorns go and how the move! They could have all the information they need without all this invasive and dangerous chasing, trapping, and harassing of bighorns. They want to draw blood and take nasal swabs to see if any of the wild sheep are carrying pathogens. Well? What if they are? If they appear to be healthy, then who cares what pathogens they are carrying? Obviously they are resistant and living quite nicely with the presence of germs. I think it's unlikely they'll stay healthy once well-intentioned government ignoramuses start meddling, but of course domestic sheep producers will immediately be blamed and their grazing allotments revoked in the name of "protecting" these "vulnerable" bighorn sheep.

Finally, the saddest article. Here we have bighorns being slaughtered by our government because they may or may not have come in contact with domestic sheep. The entire article is slanted against sheep herders, as if it's their fault the bighorns come down and try to mingle with their sheep. I'm so disgusted with this insane policy of killing bighorns over suspicion of domestic contact that I have a hard time finding words to express myself. And as all of you know, I rarely have a hard time finding words! We've GOT to figure out how to make our government officials and conservation groups rethink their strategies, their "conservation" plans, and the ways they study and track bighorns.

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