Court rules on sheep producers’ side |

Court rules on sheep producers’ side

Western sheep growers can rejoice in the outcome of two different federal court cases.

In one case, the Gallatin Wildlife Association sued the U.S. Forest Service to prevent domestic sheep from grazing on the Beaverhead-Deerlodge National Forest, in the southwestern part of Montana.

The GWA claimed the sheep and guard dogs on federal land harmed grizzly bears and bighorn sheep and that the domestic sheep were giving the re-introduced bighorn sheep pneumonia.

The case was filed in 2015 and after a couple of appeals, wound up in federal court where it was dismissed this past spring, according to the Prairie Star.

The same anti-grazing group, the Gallatin Wildlife Association, together with the Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation had sued to require an environmental study to determine the impact domestic sheep grazing federally administered land have on the local grizzly bear population. The anti-grazing groups complained that sheep were attracting grizzlies that were being killed by those tending the sheep.

After temporarily halting its use of the Centennial Mountain grazing allotment, the Sheep Experiment station is now back to grazing it. The station submitted several environmental analyses over the course of several years and several lawsuits.

The courts, in may, detrmined that the analysis was correct and that the sheep are not threatening the grizzly bears, according to the Prairie Star.

“The big takeaway from these two cases is they reverse the troubling trend where federal courts have been making management decisions about public lands that were averse to the domestic sheep industry,” said Jim Brown, director of public affairs for the Montana Wool Growers Association said in the Prairie Star.