The Pope and Young Club helps protect bighorn sheep
Chatfield, MN - January 27, 2016 - The Pope and Young Club’s Conservation, Education and Outreach Fund awarded a grant to the National Wildlife Federation’s Howe Peak and Deadman Domestic Sheep Allotment Retirements. The purpose is to help remove domestic sheep from Forest Service and BLM allotments in close proximity to bighorn sheep. The Pope and Young funding grant will help decrease the susceptibility of wild sheep from contracting disease from domestic animals.
Since the 1950s, bighorn sheep populations have been in significant decline. One of the leading causes of this
decline and lost hunting opportunity is due to the disease issues associated with bighorn sheep and
domestic sheep occupying similar habitat. By eliminating disease issues, we are ensuring healthy bighorn
sheep populations and quality hunting opportunities for future generations.
The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) resolves conflict between wildlife and livestock through the market
approach of compensating ranchers for retiring problematic grazing leases on federal land. Restoring wildlife
populations has been linked to recovering healthy, functioning ecosystems in the Northern Rockies. National
Wildlife Federation has been able to retire 37 grazing allotments in the Yellowstone Ecosystem, totaling
approximately 650,000 acres.
These areas historically supported healthy bighorn sheep populations but, by the early 1900’s were largely
eliminated due to competition with livestock, disease and unregulated hunting. Restoration efforts began in
the mid-1970s with several reintroduction’s but populations have experienced repeated die-offs and remain
low. Both state and federal wildlife agencies acknowledge that disease transmission from domestic sheep
and goats to bighorns is the major force suppressing these populations.