Sheep Producers Support No Action Alternative in Colorado
The American Sheep Industry Association and the Public Lands Council completed comments this week concerning grazing permits administered by the Gunnison Field Office of the U.S. Forest Service.
“ASI and PLC join with their affiliate the Colorado Wool Growers Association in supporting the Bureau of Land Management’s Alternative B – No Action Alternative. Under the No Action alternative, livestock grazing allotments would continue to be permitted and successfully managed as they have over recent years,” read comments from ASI President Benny Cox and PLC President Bob Skinner. “Conversely, we strongly oppose Alternatives C, D, and E. The DEIS contemplates direction consistent with the BLM released manual MS-1730 Management of Domestic Sheep and Goats to Sustain Wild Sheep. ASI objects to the consideration of this guidance, as it is beyond the agency’s scope as designated by Congress. The authority to manage for spatial or temporal separation between domestic sheep and wild sheep is not contained in the document’s referenced statutory authorities. The agency’s prescribed management practices cannot exceed the scope authorized by Congress under relevant statute. Therefore, it is improper for the agency to cite, reference or apply MS-1730.
“In the alternative, should the agency find there is relevant statutory authority to consider separation based on concerns over pathogen transmission as part of its habitat management duty then it must also consider separation among bighorn populations. The DEIS incorporates Secretarial Order 3362, Improving Habitat Quality in Western Big-Game Winter Range and Migration Corridors as supporting the ‘long-term sustainability of Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep populations in Colorado.’ Specifically, ‘maintaining connectivity between populations (or between herds).’ Research in Wyoming and Montana has shown that in 77 percent of bighorn herds tested, Mycoplasma ovipneumonia (M ovi) was detected (Butler, et. Al. 2018). While the objective in that study was to determine how commonly the pathogens associated with respiratory disease are hosted by bighorn sheep populations, the study noted that minimizing the introduction of novel pathogens from domestic sheep and goats remains imperative and that ecological factors often determine population-level effects. Therefore, it follows that if minimizing the introduction of novel pathogens from domestic sheep is imperative, it must also be imperative between and among bighorn sheep. While this action broadly by the agency ‘would not create or influence this issue,’ the inclusion and implementation of Secretarial Order 3362 would, therefore it’s reference should be removed.”
Click Here to read the full comments.
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