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Natural Resources & Energy

Domestic Sheep/Bighorn Sheep Bill Headed To Governor's Desk

Billings Gazette

Tuesday, the Wyoming house passed two bills that would lay out a strategy for keeping domestic sheep and bighorn sheep separated. Domestic sheep carry a bacteria that can spread pneumonia to bighorns, wiping out whole herds. But Wild Sheep Foundation Director Kevin Hurley has problems with the bills, especially Senate File 133, which sets aside funds to remove a herd of transplanted bighorns from the Wyoming Range    

“You know, I guess the Wyoming Plan has been very collaborative,” Hurley says. “So it has been a handshake, a Wyoming way of doing things. I think 133 is, it’s unnecessary and duplicative and to me it’s retribution that if domestic sheep can’t be there, then bighorns can’t be there either. And that’s not what we’ve talked about over the last 15 years in my view.”

Hurley says 133 is also redundant because the U.S. Forest Service recently sent a letter to Governor Mead, assuring him domestic sheep would only be removed if they endangered native bighorn sheep, not transplanted ones. 

The second bill, Senate File 134, awaits the governor’s signature while 133 still needs approval in conference committee. 

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